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A Roadside Stand – Robert Frost

This is an amazing poem – not only for the exam, but also for your conscience!

  • Suppose you are the owner of a successful company.
  • Your monthly earning is a hundred thousand dollars.
  • You have 10 employees, most of them earning less than five hundred dollars.
  • Aren’t you a robber?
  • The poem will explain how!

Stanza 01

The little old house was out with a little new shed
In front at the edge of the road where the traffic sped,
A roadside stand that too pathetically pled…

  1. Why was the ‘little old house’ extended towards the road?
    The little old house, the roadside stand, existed on the roadside to make a living out of the city money. The owners of the roadside stand expected to attract the rich city men by extending the stand closer to the road.
  2. Which traffic is referred to here? Why are they ‘speeding?’
    The traffic referred to here is the cars and other vehicles of the rich people from and to various cities. These rich city men are in great hurry to make money by doing business in the city.
  3. Why is the Stand’s existence said to be ‘pathetic?’
    The roadside stand’s sole expectation is the flow of city-money into their hands. But their expectations are never fulfilled as the rich men are not considerate about them and hence a pathetic existence for the roadside stand.

Stanza 2

The city men – rich enough to be insensitive to the sufferers – pass by, in their cars. While passing by the raodside stand, they grow angry and speed away, cursing the poor lot.

It would not be fair to say for a dole of bread
But for some of the city money, the cash, whose flow supports
The flower of cities from sinking and withering faint…

Meaning

  • Dole: Piece, City money: Big amount of money

Questions & Answers

  1. Why is it unfair to say that these people are begging for a ‘dole of bread?’
    One may think that the poor people at the roadside stand are beggars. But they are not. Unlike the beggars, who beg unconditionally, shamelessly and sometimes unreasonably, the people of the roadside stand have something to sell, some information to share and a noble reason behind their begging.
  2. What do the poor people really expect from the rich?
    The poor people expect a small share of the money from the rich people.
  3. How do the poor people look at the city money?
    For the poor people at the roadside stand money is very essential for growth and survival. It boosts the growth of the city and the city people.
  4. What is the flower of the cities? How?
    Prosperity/growth is the flower of the cities. As the flower is the crowning glory of a plant, growth becomes the flower of a city.

Stanza 03 04 | 05 06 | 07 08 | 09 10 | 11 12 | 13 14 | 15 16 | 17

  • Question of

    What is the mood of the poet?

    • Cheerful
    • Optimistic
    • Pessimistic
  • Question of

    Who are responsible for the plight of the poor people?

    • The city people
    • The poor people
    • Politicians
  • Question of

    The little old house is:

    • the poor man’s house
    • the roadside stand
    • a store house
  • Question of

    A little new shed is:

    • The poor man’s house
    • The roadside stand
    • a store house
  • Question of

    The traffic sped means:

    • There was no traffic nearby
    • There moved a busy traffic in front of the stand
    • Everyone avoided the road by the stand
  • Question of

    Too pathetically pled means:

    • The poor man begged at the stand
    • Someone was calling out for help
    • The roadside stand was in a pitiable state
  • Question of

    What is not fair to say about the roadside stand?

    • that the prices are high
    • that the stand is run for a piece of bread
    • that the quality of the articles is low
  • Question of

    What do the people at the roadside stand want?

    • A piece of bread;
    • A good amount of money;
    • the city people’s cars
  • Question of

    Flower of cities means:

    • Wealth of the city
    • Flowers usually found in cities
    • People of the city
  • Question of

    “Withering” means:

    • flourishing
    • decaying

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