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Journey of Life

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Running header: Journey of Life 1

Journey of Life
Victoria Schoepf
October 21, 2013
Jennifer Thompson

Journey of Life 2 Life starts out as an undetermined journey until the elements of choices are laid in our way. Everyone in life or spirit, will often reflect back on the path or road one has choose to contemplate, with never truly knowing if it we did choose the right or wrong direction. I will compare and contrast the literary works of “The Road Not Taken”, by Robert Frost and “I Used to Live Here Once”, by Jean Rhys. The two literary works attention is on the journey that an individual has decided to take through life. One of the narratives focuses on symbolizing choice, while the other is death, but in the same way are similar, because life itself is a journey that can lead into a life or death situation. “A symbol is an object, person, or action that conveys two meaning: its own literal meaning and something it stands for as well,” (Clugston, 2010). “The Road Not Taken” uses symbolism by starting with “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” (Frost, 1916). Two roads diverged is symbolizing the looking back, (a reflection point one has on life altering choices) on life’s lessons, (events) that have impacted one’s journey, while out of curiosity wondering where the other road may have lead. The yellow wood helps the reader to imagine fall leaves bedding on the woods floor, also enforcing the traveler has aged and is looking back in life. Frost uses symbolism with metaphors throughout the lines of his poem. This poem ends with showing us that a traveler is standing back reflecting on the split roads, or challenge he had to overcome through and event in his journey life “… Two roads diverge in a wood,” (Frost, 1916). He once craved both perspectives of the elements that where put in front of him, and now claims that he had chosen the one less traveled road.

Journey of Life 3 “I Used to Live Here Once”, starts with symbolism as, “She was standing by the river looking at the stepping stones and remembering each one,” (Rhy, 1976). A woman is standing at the river remembering the three stepping stones, one, by one. The river being her life journey, and the recollection of the stones commemorating her past life journey. Rhys uses symbolism with certain descriptive words throughout her story. After crossing to the other side she stands on a familiar road and what a “fine day”, a “blue day”, but not recognizing the “glossy” look in the sky. This symbolizes the spirit, (glossy look) of a woman reflecting back on life in a peaceful state, because “blue” is symbolic to at being in a state of peace or found serenity. Not realizing she has died, until the end when speaking to a young boy and girl her at her native home, as the boy points out how cold the air just had gotten. “Hasn’t it gone cold all of a sudden,” (Rhy, 1976). This was the first time she realized that she was in spirit form. “The Road Not Taken” is about a traveler that has come to the crossroads in his life. He stands at a fork in the road on a fall morning having to decide which choice he will make. He would have really liked to travel both, but also knows, it is totally impossible being one person. “And sorry I could not travel both,” (Frost, 1916). The traveler needs to pick and choose a direction, as he stands there contemplating, observing in depth, and thinking of the different events that may occur from one path to another, “And looked down one as far as I could, To where it bent in the undergrowth;” (Frost, 1916). The traveler observes the other path just the same as he did the first, intensely. The traveler would really like to see what the other road has to offer, but cannot see past the bend and overgrowth. Still contemplating on which road to follow, he decides the second road is the best choice. …“And having perhaps the better claim,” (Frost, 1916). Still questioning whether the
Journey of Life 4 roads are similar or different, causing him the contradiction of his impulses; thinking the second road had been less followed, but also observing that many had chosen it also, (Bouchard, J. 2008). “… Had worn them really about the same, (Frost, 1916).” Life was at an idol speed for that moment of the traveler’s life; he had studied each path intensely and concluded that the choices were of equal importance. While standing there that morning at the fork, (choices) the traveler then comes to the understanding that just as many people had followed that same road and this indicates that road has not been traveled any less. …“In leaves no step had trodden black, (Frost, 1916).” The traveler foresees the choice that he has choose, as to bring many difficult tasks and he anticipates regretting that future life may not be much more satisfying and triumphant in the end, “…Oh, I kept the first for another day!, (Frost, 1916).” The traveler understands that he cannot return to the first road, because one choice leads to another choice, which will always lead to one more. One wrong turn may through you off track and without intention may veer him in the wrong direction, because it becomes impossible to return to the beginning steps of a choice that was not taken. “Yet knowing how way leads on to way,” (Frost, 1916). With hesitation, the traveler realizes that it would be considerable more difficult to go back to the first road, while already choosing the second. “I doubted if I should ever come back,” (Frost, 1916), and the traveler comes to realize his choice made the greater difference in his journey.

Journey of Life 5 With a sigh, years and years have passed, while his desire of discovery lead back to reflecting on the decision of taking the less traveled road. “Somewhere ages and ages hence:” (Frost, 1916). This fork in the road had a significant impact on this point in life, as you see, the traveler is reminiscing with the two roads diverge. The traveler seems pleased with the decision he made, by taking what he thought to be the less traveled road, “…And that has made all the difference, (Frost, 1916).” “I Use to Live Here Once”, is a story about a woman taking a journey reflecting back on life in a spiritual state. The author starts with, “She was standing by the river looking at the stepping stones and remembering each one,” (Rhy, 1976). The river is used as a symbol of her life journey and for the stepping stones they symbolize the stages of her past life. (Folit, 2008) The reader finds out that she remembers each stone specifically. The “round and unsteady stone” represents early childhood, a stage of life with undetermined life experience. “The pointed one” represents the pain one encounters through creating a positive and more fulfilling life. “The flat one in the middle – the safe stone where you could stand and look around,” represents the knowledge and wisdom gained over time, which is middle age. “The next one wasn’t so safe for when the river was full the water flowed over it and even when it shoed dry it was slippery,” (Rhy, 1976). This represents old age and how life has no time for delay, it runs quickly now and can slip away right before your eyes with death to come. (Gooddard, 2010) Soon she was standing on the other side which helps the reader to understand that the crossing of the river is a symbol of death with, “…after that it was easy and soon she was standing on the other side, (Rhy, 1976).”

Journey of Life 6 The story goes on with, “The road was much wider…” letting us know she is in on a familiar road in her journey. “Felled tree not cleared away” and “the bushes looked trampled” suggests she knows there was unfinished business to be dealt with, but she is still satisfied with those discrepancies remaining unsettled. “Yet it was the same road and she walked along feeling extraordinarily happy,” (Rhy, 1976). This helps us to see her reflecting on life, with no fears; only happiness involved with the familiarities of her surroundings. Remarks of a “fine” day, a “blue” day, and the sky of a “glassy” look represent she has is happy with no regrets of her past life. “Glassy” is symbolic to the lack of liveliness and the state of being inanimate, now this allows the recognition of her transition of life to death. (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002-2009) While one is living you are absorbed in the undertakings of life’s risks and now, the perspective of the story has changed by emerging the view as a mirrored effect or reflecting back on the course of life. After turning the corner, she notices that, “…the pave has been taken up, (Rhy, 1976)”. “Pave is a setting of precious stones placed together so closely that no metal shows,” (Clugston, 2010). This passage helps the reader to see she has reach the “middle age” era of her refection, the most precious time, and this is where our ambitions take control using gained knowledge and wisdom, in order to prosper into an enhanced stage in life. Her journey reflecting back on her continues on, as, “…she comes to the worn stone steps that led up to the house she once lived, (Rhy, 1976)”. Her heart beats as she has finally arrived to the beginning point of her life journey, which is her childhood life. The “screwed pine” was gone and so was the mock summer home called the “ajoupa”. The symbolism of the screw pine represents the loose of immortality of youth, signifying her death. “An ajoupa is a hut or
Journey of Life 7 wigwam, built on piles and covered with branches, leaves, or rushes, which originated in the Northern Indies,” (Wordnik, n.d.). The clove tree still stood and at the top of the steps the rough lawn stretched away just as remembered. The “rough lawn” that stretches away symbolizes the eternal life cycle; from the beginning to the end, every beginning starts at the ending with a continual cycle. The house was painted white with an added on, but oddly had a car standing in the front. The added to “house painted white” represents her life and the “car standing” represents her journey through life. “There were two children under the big mango tree, a boy and a little girl…, (Rhy, 1976)”. “A mango tree is known to represent love, wealth, fertility and even immortality,” (Forest Generation, 2007-2013). With this in mind, the mango tree signifies the fertilization of life and her immortality as spirit. The children are symbolic also to her immortality and even the rebirth of her spirit. “…she waved to them and called “Hello” but they didn’t answer her or turn their heads,” (Rhy, 1976). With no reply from the children as she walks closer and says “Hello” and then also says “I used to live here once”, still no reply. A third time and reached out to touch them and the boy replied, “Hasn’t it gone cold all of a sudden. D’you notice? Let’s go in,” (Rhy, 1976). A sudden coldness in the air is a symbol of a spirit being present. As her arms go down “That was the first time she knew,” (Rhy, 1976). For the first time she realizes that she is dead. Frost’s and Rhy’s literary works are merely examples of the process of life and the effects that choices have, that one encounters through decision making. One narrator shows this through an aged traveler, while the other, a woman in spiritual form ending with realization of death. The similarities in their works are far more so greater with symbolism, than differences, which only subside by their choice in form. In conclusion, when one is reflecting back on the journey
Journey of Life 8 life has presented, you realize that the forks encountered have reasoning behind them. The rights and wrongs are just tests and lessons to be learned, in order, to help in the guidance of what one will become. Don’t let the consequences of wrong doings torment you as you travel down your road, because the trials one must face in life are there only to bring out the best you can be. Consider it a lesson learned while protruding a new perspective on the journey of life.

Bouchard, J. (2008). Literary Contexts in Poetry: Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". Literary Contexts in Poetry: Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken', 1.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Introduction to Literature. Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Folit, R. (2008, June 18). Life Journey.
Forest Generation. (2007-2013). Magniferia indica. Retrieved from Forest Generation:
Frost, R. (1916). Mountain Interval. New York: H. Holt and Company.
Gooddard, P. (2010). Clarity of Well Being. Retrieved from Self Realization and Clear Mindness:
Houghton Mifflin Company. (2002-2009). The American Dictionary .
Kan. (2009). Through a Glass, Darkly. Retrieved from Seeing and Being Seen:
Rhy, J. (1976). Sleep It Off Lady. UK: Andre Deutsch.
Wordnik. (n.d.). ajoupa. Retrieved from Wordnik:

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Eng125 Symbolism of the Journey Paths and Roads

...the Journey Paths and Roads Student Name ENG125 Instructor Name Date “A Worn Path and “The Road Not Taken” are literary works that take us on a literary journey exploring choices and obstacles the protagonists encounter adding dimension to the stories. The authors of “A Worn Path” and “The Road Not Taken” use different point of views to narrate their stories. Point of view is the way the author allows you to "see" and "hear" what's going on. Skillful authors can fix their readers' attention on exactly the detail, opinion, or emotion the author wants to emphasize by manipulating the point of view of the story” (Woods, 2010). Both stories use symbolism to show the hardship of life the characters endure along their journey and that how life can change along the way. The readers’ perceptions about the events are changed by the symbolism surrounding the characters and the conflicts that are presented. When it comes to literary works there’s always a deeper implication hidden behind the piece, and it’s up to the reader to dig around to find it. Both forms share a similar theme with different point of views along with several literary devices. Both of these literary pieces focus on one particular theme that is “Life’s Journey”.  A theme of a story should give the reader its point of view and a reader should be able to understand the theme from the story through the characters, action, and setting that make up the story. Both show how the decisions we make in life can......

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