Meaning Of "Carpe Diem" in The Road Not Taken, A&P and Araby

Categories: The Road Not Taken

Carpe Diem- seize the day; enjoy the present, as opposed to placing all hope in the future. Those who want to take a big bite of life and just run with it usually express this term, instead of worry about the future and what it holds. Besides, the future is molded by what we do today, right? Three pieces of literature we have discussed have this “carpe diem” connotation throughout the lines of their stories. Robert Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken,” John Updike’s, “A&P,” and James Joyce’s, “Araby,” all three portray their motives through their actions within the plots.

Although the chain of events that happen within these stories/poems seem as if things are not going as expected, with a little mind-digging, you can find their intentions shown by their actions.

First, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” has a very good portrayal of seizing the day. This poem is all about going with your gut feeling and not worrying about everyone else.

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Where they are headed in their future is of no significance to Frost. Instead, he, “Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear.” This clearly shows that as opposed to taken the road most travelled, knowing where it isgoing, he chose to take the road less travelled, off into content oblivion. In some cases, this is what one should do when faced with a decision. They think where today will take them instead of scaring themselves into what may or may not happen tomorrow.

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Second, John Updike’s, “A&P,” only has a glimpse of capturing life, but evidently shows one who is apart of the system, but breaks free from it’s chains. Sammy is approached by attractive young women in bathing suits while checking out groceries in a grocery store. As his manager implies the stores policy of being fully clothed in front of many other customers, Sammy immediately disagrees with his boss’ public conviction of the girls in their bikinis. Sammy’s urge to forfeit his manager’s idea of “policy” results in his voluntary termination of his part time job. Sammy briefly satisfies that urge to seize the day by smoothly and fluently exiting the building. Although he partially regrets that decision, at that time he had to grasp that moment and run with it.

Lastly William Carlos Williams’, “The Dance,” catches a big glimpse of life and celebration as it describes a picture named The Kermess, painted by Pieter Brueghel. “Kicking and rolling about the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those shanks must be sound to bear up under suck rollicking measures, prance as they dance,” this passage paints a picture itself as it describes the lively celebration of who knows what! For all we know, they could be celebrating anything, but the amount of excitement we perceive shows the characters don’t seem to be too worried about tomorrow, but rejoicing that they are alive in the present. This poem exclaims a bold statement by describing the exhilarating fun of celebration in the present day.

In conclusion, Carpe Diem means to release all worry of tomorrow and just live out today as if it were your last moment in life. All of these poems and stories have that recurring motif designed to help you realize that what happens today is what matters and the future will unfold itself as time goes on. To some, it’s unhealthy to be intensely apprehensive about what’s going to happen tomorrow, so they choose live today with no worry or regret. Everything happens for a reason, therefore we must take hold of life and know that what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Meaning Of "Carpe Diem" in The Road Not Taken, A&P and Araby. (2024, Feb 06). Retrieved from

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