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An Analysis of The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken is one of Robert Frosts most famous poems. The
imagery he creates is wonderful, and the pace and rhyming scheme make it pleasant to
read and to listen to. Deeper than that, this poem is about decision-making, and how the
choices you make will always lead to an outcome. Frost is pointing out that whether or
not the choice you make is good or bad, your choices are what make all the difference.
The poem begins with a decision that the narrator is confronted with, described in
the form of two diverging roads. The narrator is sorry I could not travel both, which
indicates that it is a tough decision, and he wishes that he could go both ways. He
looked down one as far as I could, and then took the other, as just as fair. This shows
that he is studying both options out in his mind, just as we are taught to do in Doctrine
and Covenants 9:8. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your
mind The narrator goes on to say that the passing there had worn them really about
the same. This shows that the choices he had to choose from had seemingly the same
outcome. For example, when youre deciding what to wear in the morning, or when
youre choosing between toast or corn flakes for breakfast. Will these decisions really
affect your life in some dramatic way? Probably not. Unless, of course, you factor in the
temperature outside, or whether youre going to the beach or to the supermarket. What
you eat for breakfast depends on when youll be able to eat again. If youre going to be
eating within the next few hours, a piece of toast might be just fine to hold you over. If
you wont be able to eat until much later in the afternoon, you might want to eat
something with a little more substance. These are very elementary examples, and Frost
probably isnt talking about standing in the woods trying to decide what to eat for

breakfast, but it does show that not every choice has a definite black and white obvious
outcome. In every choice we make, there are multiple factors and variables that must be
taken into account.
The narrator goes on to say that both roads lay equally in leaves no step had
trodden black, which shows that no one else had made the decision, so he had no steps
to follow. The first road he had looked down as far as he could, and the second was
grassy and wanted wear. This shows that even though he could see further down one
road, or that one choice seemed more obvious to him, that the second one wanted wear,
meaning that it was the road he felt he should take. Its almost as if the roads were
making the decision for him. This can happen to us in our own decision-making. We
can see all of the factors in one decision, yet; somehow we know that we should go the
other direction. So, he kept the first for another day. This is where he actively makes
his choice. He chooses to take the more grassy road, and decides that he will come back
and take the other road another day. But, as we all know, once we make a choice we can
never go back and undo it. The narrator knows this, and he says, Yet knowing how way
leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. As much as he, or anyone, wants
to go back and try both roads, he knows that it would be impossible. He would already
have the experiences from the road he chose, so even if he went back and tried it out just
to see what might have happened, he would never really know.
He goes on to wrap up his journey by saying I shall be telling this with a sigh
somewhere ages and ages hence. I see this as the narrator being a relatively young man
speaking with wisdom beyond his years. Here he is, at a crossroads in his life, already
knowing that whichever decision he makes will affect his life in a way that he cant take

back. It seems like such an obvious thing, but sometimes it can be easily forgotten and
we think that our choices dont really have that much of an impact. This is apparent in
the people of my generation today. All you have to do is turn on essentially any reality
TV show and you can see decision-making at its worst. In the MTV show The Real
World almost every episode is filled with dramatic situations because somebody got
drunk and did something inappropriate or disrespectful, or somebody did something just
because they wanted to, without taking into account how their actions might affect any of
the people around them. Our narrator, however, knows that the choice he makes does
have an impact. He doesnt say this directly, but the fact that hes standing in the woods
thinking about what might happen in either direction shows us this.
Then we come to the most quoted part of this poem: Two roads diverged in a
wood, and II took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. At
first, our gut reaction is to think that he made the right decision. This is not stated
anywhere, and I do not think that is how these lines were intended to be interpreted. He
only says that the road he chose has made all the difference. Whether or not the choice
was right or wrong, good or bad, is irrelevant. The point hes making is that the choice
he made set him in the direction that has made him who he is. From the first choice to
take that road, he has been faced with choice upon choice upon choice, which has
brought him to where he is, or where he will be, later on in life. This choice, for us, can
be where we decide to go to school, or who we decide to marry, or if were a vegetarian,
or if we shoot someone, or if we buy a car or a home. It can be a small decision or a
large decision; a decision made for yourself or for your entire family; or a decision made
for a small community or for an entire nation.

Beyond the light feeling of this poembeyond the happiness an individual might
feel as they reach the end of this poemlies the simple truth that our choices directly
correlate with the person we become.

Works Cited
The Doctrine and Covenants. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. 1979.
Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken. American Literature Volume 2. Ed. William E.
Cain. Pearson Education, Inc., 2004. 399.
The Real World. MTV. New York, NY.