Sometimes a life can be changed by the simplest of decisions. Robert Frost has written three poems all revolving around choices. These poems are “The Road Not Taken,” “Mending Wall,” and “After Apple-Picking. ” In each poem, the speaker questions a particular aspect of his life. However, each decision, no matter how big or small, creates a puzzling problem in the speaker’s life. This essay will argue that Robert Frost’s poems, “The Road Not Taken,” “Mending Wall,” and “After Apple-Picking” symbolically suggest that the poems’ speaker is confronted by difficult decisions, perplexing obstacles, and unfinished business in his life.
In the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” the speaker is confronted by difficult decisions. First, his trails begin when he reaches “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” and says “sorry I could not travel both” (Frost 1-2). These two roads represent the choices the speaker is faced with. He wishes he had not come to this fork in the road because it forces him to choose a certain way. After, he gives this decision a lot of though and says, “[I] looked down one as far as I could… [and] shall be telling this with a sigh” (4, 16). He is trying to see how far each path will take him, but it is impossible for him to know for sure.
It is extremely difficult for him to make a decision because him will forever wonder about what could have been. The speaker will end up sighing about his choice either way. However, some decisions can be even more difficult and perplexing. The speaker in the poem, “Mending Wall,” finds himself contemplating the perplexing obstacles that deal with the wall between his and his neighbor’s properties?. Every spring when the wall needs repair, “[He] [lets] [his] neighbor know beyond the hill/ And on a day [they] meet to walk the line… they] wear [their] fingers rough with handling them… [and yet] it comes to little more” (10-11, 20, 23). When seeing that work is needed, he goes to his neighbor seeking help to overcome the laborious obstacle. Even though they work hard, develop a friendship, and wear themselves out, there is still no permanent accomplishment. While they work, the speaker wrestles with his neighbor’s notion “Good fences make good neighbors” (27) as he says to himself, “why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it [only needed] where there are cows? But there are no cows” (30,31).
The speaker believes that the wall would only be needed if they were trying to keep themselves apart, but he finds that there is nothing for them to wall in or out. He wonders about the reason he built the wall in the first place and why he never asked what it was for. Although the speaker constantly overcomes and deals with these particular perplexing? obstacles, some unfinished business directs a very important part in his life. Lastly, the poem, “After Apple-Picking,” suggests that the speaker has unfinished business in his life.
For example, the speaker tells of his job as an apple-picker when he says, “There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch/ Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall” (30-31). He is very weary after all of the ten million apples he picks? each day. Even though he is weary, he continues to make sure his business of apple-picking is complete. However, one day the work becomes too much “and there’s a barrel that [he] didn’t fill/ Beside [the tree] and there may be two or three apples [he] didn’t pick upon some bough” (3-5).
The speaker is aging and dying, therefore, he is unable to complete his job. This represents the unfinished business he feels compelled to execute before he dies. In the end, the speaker is not sure whether or not the incomplete task hanging above him will keep him from his death. Robert Frost wrote three poems all dealing with the importance of decisions. The speaker in “The Road Not Taken,” is faced with a life-changing decision in his life. However, with the consequences of choosing the wrong way always on his mind, the decision is extremely difficult.
In “Mending Wall,” the speaker contemplates the wall’s purpose at all. He questions whether he really needs to separate himself from his good neighbor. Finally, in the poem “After Apple-Picking,” Frost tells of a man who has grown weary over his many days of work as an apple-picker. As death approaches the speaker wonders if his unfinished business will keep him from dying. Through these three poems, Frost uses symbolism to relate difficult and perplexing challenges to everyday life.