Why do we feel the need to redeem ourselves? Guilt? Satisfaction? Or is it a Sense of Duty that causes us to correct our mistakes? Or maybe it is a Life-Threatening Event that causes us to finally see past our selfishness and realize what is important. But even is one finds a reason to try to obtain redemption, is it possible?
Robert Frost's "The Death of the Hired Hand" confronts the concept of redemption. Silas, the previous hired hand, eventually returns to the farmhouse of Mary and Warren to fulfill his broken contract. Mary comes home and discovers Silas; however, Silas is no longer in the working condition he once was. On the contrary, Silas' youth has disappeared and there is now a man on the verge of death. Assessing the quality of his health, Mary quickly brings him inside.
Mary and Warren argue over whether or not Silas should stay at their farm. Mary understands what Silas needs and persistently tries to convince Warren to let him stay. Mary knows that Silas is about to die so she tries to tell Warren that all he wants is to fulfill his contract so that he can receive redemption. Mary understands it is redemption that he needs to achieve comfort as he dies. Warren doesn't understand this and, therefore, only feels resentment. Warren finally enters the house to confront Silas and finds his old, hired help dead.
Why does Silas return to the farm? He returns to die honorably. In order to die honorably, he needs redemption. Silas feels his life slipping between his fingers and he finally realizes that he needs redemption. His nearing death finally forces Silas to this realization and instead of spending his last moments with his family, he searches for this redemption.
Is redemption possible? Ironically, even after his realization and attempt to find redemption, he still dies alone. Mary and Warren are not there, as they are outside, and his last breath is taken alone and absent of the redemption that he longed for. Silas' attempt of redemption is unsuccessful and the pronouncing of his death solidifies this as Warren bleakly says, "Dead."
So is redemption possible? I do not know. But maybe if it did not take a Life or Death situation to make us realize this need, it could be possible.