Thinking through the literature
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How do you think the speaker feels about being alone at night? Cite pharses or lines from the poem that suggest his feelings.
Acquainted with the night by Robert frost
This poem is commonly understood to be a description of the narrator’s experiences with depression. The most crucial element of his depression is his complete isolation. Frost emphasizes this by using the first-person term “I” at the beginning of seven of the lines. Even though the watchman has a physical presence in the poem, he does not play a mental or emotional role: the narrator, the sole “I,” remains solitary. Similarly, when the narrator hears the “interrupted cry” from another street, he clarifies that the cry is not meant for him, because there is no one waiting for him at home.
The narrator’s inability to make eye contact with the people that he meets suggests that his depression has made him incapable of interacting in normal society. While normal people are associated with the day (happiness, sunlight, optimism), the narrator is solely acquainted with the night, and thus can find nothing in common with those around him. The narrator is even unable to use the same sense of time as the other people in the city: instead of using a clock that provides a definitive time for every moment, the narrator relies solely on “one luminary clock” in the sky.
Ironically, since night is the only time that he emerges from his solitude, the narrator has even less opportunity to meet someone who can pull him from his depression. His acquaintance with the night constructs a cycle of depression that he cannot escape.