Robert Frost’s poem “Out, Out---” tells the tragic story of a boy cutting wood in the yard with a buzz-saw which slips and severs his arm. The boys pleads to his sister not to let the doctor cut it off. The doctor arrives and goes through the motions of an emergency: taking measures to stanch the blood flow and ease the pain, to no avail. The family of the boy listens to his heartbeat that grows fainter and fainter until it is gone. Frost, in the last lines, notes the indifference of the surviving kin, relieved that calamity has fallen not on them but on someone else. Probably they think death is preferable to being a cripple, sparing the boy of needless suffering.
Frost sympathizes with the boy as he labors with the buzz- saw, wishing his family had given him sufficient rest. It is the day’s end: one could count five mountain ranges in the sunset. The boy obviously is tired doing a man’s work, and hungry too, and his sister’s call for supper may have momentarily distracted him, causing the whirring blade to slip into his arm.
Frost observes man’s hatred of death, or distaste of the idea of it, which possibly explains why people do not want to dwell long on the passing of another because it would remind them of their own inevitable rendezvous with mortality. Frost feels that people, deep inside, do not mourn long enough, nor care enough about the passing of another, be it a relative or someone else.
On a positive note, the capacity to look beyond present tragedy may probably serve to shield a person from thoughts of self-destruction, or guilt, that would probably scar him for life. The poem reminds us that our primordial need for survival comes first.