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Week 15

Teen Reader

The Death of the Hired Man

The Death of the Hired Man Text Version

The Death of the Hired Man Audio Version

Robert Frost

About the Author

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Robert Lee Frost was born March 26th, 1874 in San Francisco, California.  His father was a journalist who died when Frost was a child, prompting his mother to move to Lawrence, Massachusetts to live with the children’s paternal grandparents.  Robert Frost’s mother was a teacher who encouraged his academic studies.  He graduated at the top of his class, sharing valedictorian status with Elinor White, who he later married.

Frost taught school and wrote poetry with little of his work getting published.  Growing discouraged, Frost sold his family farm and used the proceeds to move to London where he believed his poems would be received more easily by publishers.  Frost’s work began to be famous in 1915 and he moved back to America, buying a farm in New Hampshire.  He received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1923.  He is most famous for his poems “The Road Not Taken”, “Mending Wall”, “Birches”, “Fire and Ice”, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, and “Out, Out”.  Frost is known for his descriptions of rural New England’s people and places.

President John F. Kennedy, at whose inauguration Frost delivered a poem, said of the poet, "He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding."

“The Death of the Hired Man” (1914)

Though this is a poem, it is written as a free-form narrative, making it very much like a regular short story.  The Death of the Hired Man’s most famous line is, ‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.’ This is central to the theme of the story.  It explores compassion, kindness, forgiveness, guilt, and belonging.

Questions for “The Death of the Hired Man”

Why does Mary stop Warren at the door and go outside with him before giving him the news that Silas has returned?

Why has Silas returned?  How did you feel about their differing reactions to this situation?  What do their reactions say about their characters?

Warren and Mary define the word “home” differently.  How do you interpret their positions and with whom do you most agree? Why?

What different values do Warren and Mary place on kindness?

What does the symbolism of the cloud and the moon mean?

What do you think the author’s message was for this poem?  What lesson did the characters likely learn?

 

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