Road not taken by Robert Frost
The poem Road Not Taken is about the choices we make in our lives. The poet sees two roads diverging in a wood and he can’t decide which one he should take. The poet leaves the first road and takes the other knowing well that he will not get a chance to return to the first road again. That decision, of course, made all the difference in his life.
The choices that we make in our life are like roads. They go in various directions and take us along with them. In most cases it is not possible to come back and make a different choice because one road always leads to another road. In the poem the poet chooses the second road because it appears grassy and wants wear. This decision also indicates the poet’s eagerness to take the less trodden path.
Diverge – when roads diverge they go in separate directions
Yellow wood – in autumn, leaves turn yellow giving woods a yellow appearance
Undergrowth – bushes and small trees and plants
Trodden – past participle form of tread; to tread is to walk on
3. Have you made choices that are acceptable and less ‘risky’ or have you followed the beaten track? Why?
There have been at a least a few occasions in my life when I made risky choices. I faced opposition from my parents whenever they felt that I was taking unwanted risks. On all those occasions, however, I stood my ground because I knew that I was making the right choices. Also, I was ready to face the consequences. On most other occasions, however, I preferred to follow the beaten track. While making choices the most important thing for me is to follow my instincts. I weigh all the pros and cons and proceed only if I am convinced that I am making the right choice.
7. (a) In the poem, a traveler comes to a fork in the road and needs to decide which way to go to continue his journey. Figuratively the choice of the road denotes ……………………………….
(i) the tough choices people make the road of life
(ii) the time wasted on deciding what to do
(iii) life is like a forest
(iv) one must travel a lot to realize his dreams
(b) The poet writes, ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.’ The word diverged means …………………………
(iii) branched off
(iv) continued on
(c) The tone of the speaker in the first stanza is that of ……………………..
(iii) hesitation and thoughtfulness
8. Answer the following questions briefly.
(i) Describe the two roads that the author comes across.
Answer: The author came across two roads diverging in a yellow wood. Both roads looked appealing but he chose the second one because that looked grassy and less traveled by. The first one went deep into the forest and disappeared in the undergrowth. Obviously a lot of people had taken the first road but few chose the second.
(ii) Which road does the speaker choose? Why?
Answer: The speaker was in a dilemma as to which road he should choose. He looked at both roads and then chose the second road because it appeared grassy and wanted wear. It was obvious that few people had taken the road. The speaker’s decision to take the less trodden path also shows his readiness to take risks in life.
(iii) Which road would you choose? Why?
Answer: I prefer going off the beaten track so I too will take the second road. I am adventurous and do not mind taking risks in life. While I understand the perils involved in this I am confident of my ability to overcome the obstacles in my way.
(iv) Does the speaker seem happy about his decision?
Answer: The speaker seems neither happy nor unhappy about his decision. While making a decision, it is not possible to decide whether it is right or wrong. After making a decision it takes ages and ages before we can say with certitude that we made the right or wrong decision. In the poem, the speaker merely states that his decision to take the less traveled road made all the difference in his life.
(v) The poet says ‘I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.’ What is the difference that the poet mentions?
Answer: The difference is that the poet chose a road that few people would take. The road which the poet took wanted wear. Obviously few people had taken it because it was risky and adventurous. If the poet had taken the first road that most people took he too would have achieved, name, fame, wealth and security like them. Instead the poet chose the less trodden path and that probably made his life more adventurous and less secure.
More questions and answers
1. What does the expression ‘Yellow wood’ mean?
Answer: In autumn the leaves turn yellow and give the wood a yellow appearance.
2. What does the expression ‘long I stood’ mean?
Answer: It shows the poet’s dilemma – his confusion and inability to make a decision
3. What is the mood of the poet in the poem?
Answer: The poet is thoughtful and pensive.
4. What does the expression ‘in leaves no step had trodden black’?
Answer: It shows that nobody had walked on those leaves and grass and crushed them.
5. What is the doubt of the poet?
Answer: The poet doubts whether he will be able to come back to the first road because one road always leads to another road and it is nearly impossible to return to the first road after traveling far along the first road.
6. The poet ‘looked down one’ as far as he could because
Answer: He was trying to see where that road led
6. Bring out the symbolism in the poem the Road Not Taken.
The road is merely a metaphor for the choices we make. Just like the road, the choices we make determine the direction of our life. Most people take the beaten path because it is less risky. The adventurous few, like the poet, will go off the beaten track. They are aware of the risks involved in this decision but they want to do something different with their lives. While making a decision it is not possible to find out whether it is right or wrong. Only after several years can we say with certainty whether the decision was right or wrong.