There are many people who travel a distance in life to find the path they should take or to remember the path they once took. In the poem “The Path Not Taken,” by Robert Frost and the short story “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys there are many similarities and differences. The authors’ use of describing a path helps them personify life’s journeys and self-reflection. Robert Frost uses imagery to describe two different journeys in life that could have been taken. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth. ” As Frost writes in this first paragraph, he expresses the two journeys as a road diverged in a yellow wood. He is only one person so he could not travel both paths, but he did look and think ahead as far as he could in order to choose the path he wanted to take. After a certain point he could not tell the outcome of either path. Jean Rhys uses imagery as well to describe her journey and the difficult challenge it was to cross over.
In the first paragraph “She was standing by the river looking at the stepping stones and remembering each one. There was the round unsteady stone, the pointed one, the flat one in the middle the safe stone where you could stand and look around. The next wasn’t so safe for when the river was full the water flowed over it and even when it showed dry it was slippery. But after that it was easy and soon she was standing on the other side. ” Rhys used this description of the stones to explain how hard it has been to cross the river but it really wasn’t the river, it reveals itself later on.
Frost continues to use imagery and tone to express the next step on his journeys path. When he writes “Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear: Through as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,” he is explaining he took the path that many have not taken. Even though some before him have, it has been a long time since they have and this called to him. It was longing for him to take this way. The tone expressed in this part is very deep and thought through because at this point is when he had to decided which way he anted to go. Rhys uses a road in her next paragraph as well. This is also very descriptive and shows she has been here once before. “The road was much wider than it used to be but the work had been done carelessly. The felled trees had not been cleared away and the bushes looked trampled. Yet it was the same road and she walked along feeling extraordinarily happy. ” This road that she is walking down is very familiar because she has walked this road many times before. Rhys uses the word “same” to express this is the very same path, just a few trees and the road is not as clear as it once was.
She continues to express the words over and over again “It was a fine day, a blue day. The only thing was that the sky had a glassy look that she didn’t remember. That was the only word she could think of, Glassy. She turned the corner, saw that what had been the old pave had been taken up, and there too the road was much wider, but it had the same unfinished look. ” It was different but still the “same,” she did not see it as she once did long ago. She also used the word “Glassy,” since this was meant more than just a look. This is also later revealed. At this point both stories begin to take a direction to not go back.
When Frost describes him looking back “And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. ” He expresses the thought of going back is not a bad one, but “way leads on to way” meaning time keeps going forward. At this point he really doesn’t see himself going back. There is no real reason why. This turning point express contentment, even though he was not sure of what the other path could have given him the same journey, he is fine with the one he has chosen.
When Rhys says, “She came to the worn stone steps that led up to the house and her heart began to beat. The screw pine was gone, so was the mock summer house called the ajoupa, but the clove tree was still there and at the top of the steps the rough lawn stretched away, just as she remembered it. She stopped and looked towards the house that had been added to and painted white. It was strange to see a car standing in front of it. ” She was not sure why someone would be there. This leads too many thoughts through the girl’s mind, why is everything so different, have I been gone for that long, what has happened here?
A question she had not answers for at that moment. In the last paragraph Frost says “I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ” When he uses repeated images he is describing a re-telling of his life’s journey. He explains ages and ages which shows years that have passes he will talk about the two roads in the woods, which were the two paths that he could have taken. He chose to take the one less traveled by, which could have been a harder path but the one he thought was best for him.
His last line is more of a philosophical than an actual description. He says “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ” Meaning the road he has chosen was a road that many before him have not taken. He did not want to walk in the same footsteps as many others, but he in fact wanted to create his own path and his own destiny. When Rhys explains her last couple of sentences she uses the images of others to express the actual idea of that has happened. “There were two children under the big mango tree, a boy and a little girl, and she waved to them and called “Hello” but they didn’t answer her or turn their heads.
Very fair children, as Europeans in the West Indies so often are: as if the white blood is asserting itself against all odds. The grass was yellow in the hot sunlight as she walked towards them. When she was quite close she called again, shyly: “Hello. ” Then, “I used to live here once,” she said. Still they didn’t answer. When she said for the third time “Hello” she was quite near them. Her arms went out instinctively with the longing to touch them. ” She kept describing the details of starting a conversation, but no one would answer her.
Did they not want to speak to her? Were they really ignoring her? The final last lines explain as she wrote “It was the boy who turned. His grey eyes looked straight into hers. His expression didn’t change. He said: “Hasn’t it gone cold all of a sudden. D’you notice? Let’s go in. ” “Yes, let’s,” said the girl. Her arms fell to her sides as she watched them running across the grass to the house. That was the first time she knew. ” All this time, trying to speak to them, she even approached them and still not a word was spoken between them.
The boy who she tried to speak with stared straight at her as she thought but in fact what he was doing was staring straight through her. She was no longer from this world but in fact a ghost who traveled many roads. She traveled to where she grew up and tried to explain that she used to live in a house in the woods. She walked the path over and described the differences, even the fact that the sky was no longer just blue, but it had a “glassy” look to it. She was a ghost floating through her memories and she did not come to her reality until she was faced with her past.
I believe all of the symbols used in the poem and short story can be related to everyday life experiences. Others would agree that Frost used “In a sense, Frost stands at the crossroads of nineteenth-century American poetry and modernism, for in his verse may be found the culmination of many nineteenth-century tendencies and traditions as well as parallels to the works of his twentieth-century contemporaries (Poetry Foundation). ” Both poems and short stories have different affects for a reader. Each reader would understand their effects more if the poem and short story was read or played out by the writer themselves.
They would have a better understanding on the emotional effaces of each word or symbolic meaning. Writers use tone, imagery, and everyday understanding to engage the reader. Both readings “The Path Not Taken,” by Robert Frost and “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys have similar ideas of writing but they both have different meanings. They both express an emotional connection they had at one point in their life that they had or will come back. Frost would revisit to tell his story and Rhys revisited to express herself in the story.