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“Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

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Introduction

Trevor Davis Mr. Wright English I 3 6 June 2002 [Title] "Something there is that doesn't love a wall" (Frost 1). So begins the poem "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost. On the surface, this poem appears to be about two neighbors that hold conflicting opinions about the construction of a wall dividing their lands. One of the neighbors thinks that "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (27), where as the other sees no reason to make unnatural boundaries dividing their lands. When the poem is examined further, the reader can see that there is much more meaning in the poem. Robert Frost is said to be a nature-lover (Winnick 1), and this is reflected in Frost's poem, "Mending Wall." Frost uses symbolism quite frequently in "Mending Wall" to demonstrate what is wrong with the world and the fear many have about stepping away from tradition. Three things in Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall" serve as symbols throughout the poem: the narrator's neighbor symbolizes society (Mending Wall 2), the wall symbolizes tradition (Haslam 2), and the phrase "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (Frost 27) ...read more.

Middle

The narrator's neighbor symbolizes the attitude and morals of society. (Mending Wall 2) The wall that the neighbor clings to symbolizes tradition for the very reason that the neighbor, symbolizing man, refuses to give it up for new ways. The narrator says that the neighbor "moves in darkness" (Frost 41), suggesting that the neighbor is hiding in the shade of the wall, staying close to tradition. The neighbor clings to the wall in the same way the man, symbolized by the neighbor, clings to tradition. The neighbor does not seem to know why he is building the wall; he is just doing it because his father told him "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (27) and because he has been doing it all his life. The neighbor refuses to let the wall be abolished, insisting that it be repaired annually, never letting be forgotten. The way that the neighbor honors the wall is the same way society honors its traditions. ...read more.

Conclusion

The narrator says: "Before I built a wall I'd ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out" (32-33). The phrase "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (27) completely contradicts this ideology and thus symbolizes everything that the narrator believes is wrong with the world. (Mending Wall 3) In Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall," three things serve as symbols for larger things in the world: the neighbor, the wall, and the phrase "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (Frost 27). The neighbor symbolizes society and man as a whole because he refuses to step away from the wall because it sets boundaries that make his life simpler (Mending Wall 2). The wall symbolizes tradition because the neighbor, symbolizing society, refuses to give it up for new things and ideas (Haslam 2). The phrase "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (27) symbolizes all of the things that the narrator believes are wrong with society because the saying directly contradicts the narrator's ideals about the purpose of walls and the need for communication (Mending Wall 3). In the poem, "Mending Wall," everything seems to represent something else that is larger and more important. ...read more.

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