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The Road Not Taken Discussion Questions

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

'The Road Not Taken' is a classic poem by American author Robert Frost. As your students read the poem, consider these discussion questions to get them thinking about the form and details of the poem and their own personal response.

Discussing Poetry

Teaching students to thoughtfully study poetry can be difficult. It's easy for students to swiftly read a poem and then move on without pausing to think about the poem's content. Discussion questions about both the poetic form and the personal relevance of a poem can enhance students' understanding of poetry, as well as giving them tools to evaluate poetry independently in the future. Robert Frost's ''The Road Not Taken'' is a short poem that could be easily dismissed as simple and elementary. Use these questions to encourage your students to take a closer look.

Questions about Form

  • This poem is a metaphor for choice-making. In what ways is the metaphor effective or ineffective?
  • There are many different types of choices we make in life. For what types of choices is this poem a meaningful metaphor?
  • This poem consists of a very regular rhyme pattern. In what ways does the rhyme scheme add to or detract from the impact of the poem?
  • Based on the text, what can you infer about the narrator of the poem? What is the narrator's motivation in writing this poem? Is the narrator reliable?

Questions about Specific Details

  • The poet chooses to picture a choice as the divergence of two roads in a yellow wood. What associations does the forest imagery have for you?
  • What other metaphors would express a similar feeling about choice-making? How would you prefer to describe the process of making a big choice?
  • What is the significance of the undergrowth in the first stanza?
  • What is the significance of the leaves in the third stanza?
  • What feelings does this poem evoke overall? Do your feelings change over the course of the poem? Do you think the narrator's feelings change over the course of the poem?
  • In the second stanza, the narrator comments that the two roads are ''worn really about the same,'' and in the third stanza he says ''both that morning equally lay. . .'' However, in the final stanza the narrator states that he ''took the one less traveled by.'' What do you make of this apparent incongruity?

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