Analysis of “Mending Wall” and social events that informed its writing

Subject: Literature
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1072
Topics: Poetry, Book, Communication, Friendship, Teamwork
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The author wrote this poem explaining the social events that happen in the world today between two neighbors who need to communicate, have a relationship, trust each other, socialize without forgetting their boundaries and protecting their properties. The writer focuses on how he doesn’t need a wall to be in good terms with his neighbor but his neighbor insists that a wall is necessary and I agree with his neighbor that a good wall makes a good neighbor. Frost gives us a vivid picture of two characters living together but who have a different idea of what makes a good neighbor as well as the comparison of tradition and common sense. The speaker seems a friendly person who hopes for more socialization with his neighbor than the division which is caused by following of the traditions blindly without questions. The wall in this poem symbolizes separation, ambiguity and at the same time unity between two people. It is in each spring after destruction by winter and hunters the two builds and repairs the wall that separates them and they continue doing it every time there is destruction over and over again until the speaker asks if they really need the wall. As seen in the poem both their farms are covered with trees and there is nothing that could cross over one’s property and so the narrator sees that a wall is needed where there are cows or in some other places but not in their household  “Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it where there are cows? But here there are no cows” (“Summary and Analysis of the Poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost”)

In the title ‘Mending’ the speaker of the poem and his neighbor repair the wall that separates their two farms although the title can also be seen as an adjective that  keeps a peaceful relationship between themselves. The idea of the poem is about two people who live in the same household but are in disagreement whether there is a need for a wall to separate their properties where this wall would not only divide their properties but would also cut their friendship and communication. From the speaker’s view, this barrier led to loneliness, alienation and emotional isolation. In the lines 1-4, the narrator notices that nature doesn’t like the idea of the presence of the wall as much as he himself likes and so a gaps start to show from nowhere while stones fall for no apparent reason at all, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast..” The poet portrays lack of closeness between the neighbors even though they are familiar with each other and still they communicate only when they meet on set days to mend the wall separating their farms (“Robert Frost: Poems “Mending Wall” (1914) Summary and Analysis | GradeSaver”) The speaker doesn’t believe in the wall but he could not persuade his neighbor to see beyond his old-fashioned method of keeping peace between them. The neighbor believes that a good wall makes good neighbors but the speaker could not understand how.  The two neighbors don’t hold a dialogue to debate about the necessity of a wall but there is a feeling that the speaker could exist without it but the neighbor relies on the ancestral ties to hold onto the barriers of stone.

It is very interesting and surprising as seen in lines 12-20 because, despite the truth that the narrator doesn’t include himself among his neighbors who need the wall, he is very committed and reminds his neighbor when the time of repairing the wall comes.  “I let my neighbor know beyond the hill, and on a day we meet to walk the line, and set the wall between us once again”. Moreover, the speaker walks down the wall repairing the parts that have been ruined by the hunters despite his skeptical attitude, he shows commitment to the tradition of repairing the wall than his neighbors “The work of hunters is another thing: I have come after them and made repair”.  Therefore, the narrator is the same like his neighbor as he owns up to the idea of property ownership and identity even though he presents himself as a modern man.  Again, Frost accepts the idea that the separation by the wall unites them and they work as a team and they can trust and help each other in communication.

The built wall causes disagreement between the narrator and his neighbor as every one of them is loyal to their ideas. In the lines 21-31, the author puts in humor when he compared the repairing of the wall to an outdoor game.  Line 23 points out that the narrator is not a fan of the wall, “There where it is we do not need the wall,” and it brings us back to the narrators strong argument that the wall is meaningless.  In particular, the author uses irony where the narrator tell his neighbor that his trees; apple will at no time cross over to the neighbor’s showing that they don’t have a real reason for building the barrier but the neighbor emphasizes that the fence will make good neighbors and this makes the narrator desires to ask why they make good neighbors and also what he is “walling in and walling out” but his neighbor hears none of it. Throughout the poem two lines reappeared “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” and “Good fences make good neighbors” which gives us the two main themes of the poem.  And no matter how our narrator convinces his neighbor by giving him reasonable ideas the man stands on his ground (Trachtenberg vol. 21)

Ultimately, the presence of the wall between the properties even though it limits the communication it ensures a quality relationship between the narrator and his neighbor. By building and repairing the wall, the two neighbors are able to keep their individuality and personality as farmers; one has apples and the other has pine trees. Furthermore, the mending of the wall that happens annually provides a chance for the two to communicate as well as interact, an activity that doesn’t happen in a secluded rural neighborhood.  The mending of the wall also gives a chance to the two men to work together and build a team.

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  1. “Robert Frost: Poems “Mending Wall” (1914) Summary and Analysis | GradeSaver.” Study Guides & Essay Editing | GradeSaver, www.gradesaver.com/the-poetry-of-robert-frost/study-guide/summary-mending-wall-1914.
  2. Trachtenberg, Zev M. “Good Neighbors Make Good Fences: Frost’s ‘Mending Wall’.” Philosophy and Literature, vol. 21, no. 1, 1997, pp. 114-122.
  3. “Summary and Analysis of the Poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost.” LetterPile, letterpile.com/poetry/Summary-and-Analysis-of-Poem-Mending-Wall-by-Robert-Frost.
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