Sure, I'll Help...

           - - - two students foolishly ask someone else to do their homework

Terence FERNANDEZ wrote:

Hello !

I'm a French pupil in a special american section (OIB).  With my class, we have studyed poems of Robert Frost, and made an essay on "Acquainted with the night".  But I had had a bad mark to this essay, cause I've made a bad analysis and not outline.  But I want to understand what is a good analysis on this poem (with all like the outline,...).  Please, could somebody send me it?  THANK YOU A LOT for your answer.

                  Terence FERNANDEZ

Given the levels of kindness and courtesy shown me as a young American sailor briefly visiting France (Cannes & Marseilles), I'm happy to have an opportunity to return the favor.

I am not familiar with French outlining formats, and so will just give you some general tips, from my perspective.  For the record, I was an English major at Purdue University (class of '72) and am quite familiar with Frost's work.

Firstly, let's get the poem out where we can all see it:

      Acquainted with the Night
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.


Robert Frost was, of course, a New England peasant-farmer, which makes it clear why you'd come to alt.appalachian.literature for this information.  He was also notoriously homosexual, and unlike some of his nature poems, this one is one of his simplest to understand.  He is being quite literal, quite plain spoken, though a European might easily miss the fact this is essentially a description of a gay man's prowl through city streets, at a time when such behavior was, in this country, fraught with danger.

Hence, "...passed by the watchman on his beat / And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain."  In America, homosexual males "cruise" by slipping around rough and dangerous areas of their towns, attempting to make surreptitious eye contact with anyone who interests them.  Policemen are quite aware of this behavior, and in the early twentieth century, were not at all hesitant to arrest or  -- even worse --  seriously beat up any gay man they caught doing such things.

The "interrupted cry" is most likely a reference to Frost's hearing two other gay men who've been far more successful than he at making a carnal connection.  Robert Frost was, you see, a very unattractive man, given to bad personal hygiene and more than a little overweight.  By the time he realized  -- and openly confessed --  his sexual orientation, Frost was old as well, factors which did not make him attractive when he cruised those "saddest city lanes" (a reference to the "bad" parts of town that generally attract homosexuals).

Having gotten you off on the right foot, Terence, I will leave it to you to build on this analysis.  Again, you're fortunate your teacher assigned such an "obvious" Frost work.

Poems like "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" are far more obscure in their imagery, though "My little horse must think it queer..." does make clear what's really going on.

Good luck.

(You wouldn't believe how many "educated" people got sucked in by this, how many sent email or posted to the newsgroup demanding documentation for the above.

And of course, though I emailed this -and the following- "help," sadly, there's no way of knowing if my assistance was actually used.  One can only hope...)

Name deleted wrote:


I am haveing problems with the Catcher and The Rye!

Can anyone help me understand it a little better by writing a breif summary of the book to me!

Or you could direct me to a website that could help me!

Any info can be useful!


I went by this a time or two, but it was that nifty and swell little Web TV-er moving super-hero icon at the bottom of your post that convinced me to offer you some help.

J. D. (For "Jimmy Dale") Salinger (born 1919 in Hazard KY) is one of my favorite Appalachian authors, though I'm sure you know he hasn't lived in this part of the country since his World War II conscientious objector days.  But it's a matter of some regional pride that the writer of a book as widely read as THE CATCHER AND THE RYE is still sort of a local guy who comes home every August.

Anyway, if you want to talk knowledgeably about TCATR, mostly you need to pay attention to just the last few pages.  Holden Caufield, the novel's hero, has skipped school to spend the day roaming around New York City, wishing his divorced parents would get back together and move him and his sister Franny back to the home place in Kentucky.  Holden really hates New York, where he has failed miserably at the only job he ever had, that of babysitter.  That's what most of the book is, really, Holden's going from place to place and talking about how much he really meant to do well, and couldn't.

In fact he gets absolutely suicidal over it.

It all leads inevitably to those last couple pages, and if you read them, and the above paragraph you'll have a pretty good understanding of THE CATCHER AND THE RYE. You'll notice that at the end, in his fantasy, Holden is a very good babysitter, given the serious responsibility of catching all those little kids before they fall off that cliff.  It's a weird sort of image, but it's really there, just the last few pages...

Good luck with your paper or whatever.

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