An Analysis of Robert Frost's Mending Wall
Length: 748 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)
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Mending Wall, by Robert Frost portrays the routines of two neighbors who are constantly mending the fence, or wall, that separates their properties. If a stone is missing form the fence, you can bet that the two men are out there putting it back together piece by piece.
Frost's description of every detail in this poem is quite interesting, very pleasant to read, and extremely imaginable. He leaves the reader to decide for himself what deductions he is to make from the reading. On one hand, Frost makes literal implications about what the two men are doing. For instance, they are physically putting the stones back, one by one. Their dedication, commitment, and constant drive shines through when reading how persistence these men seem about keeping the wall intact. Quite the contrary however, is the inferences that something even deeper is going on. There is a sharing experience taking place here. Indeed, by laboring so hard, each man is experiencing physical repercussions, but they are also using this time as a "meet and greet" period.
We can gather from the beginning of the poem that the wall has many forces that keep's it in shambles. For instance, Frost writes;
"...that sends the frozen ground swell under it and spills the upper boulders in the sun...", and "I have come after them(hunters) and made repair where they have left not one stone on a stone..."
The man and his neighbor don't seem to have time for anything else, for it sounds as if they are constantly making repairs. Is there a reason for this?
It is important to note that not only are these men completing a manly task, but they are also "building" some type of relationship. If this were not an issue, the neighbor would not repeat;
"Good fences make good neighbors."
As the man tells his story, we find that even though the two men may be conversing and interacting, there is some distance between them at all times. The man says;
"...on a day we meet to walk the line and set the wall between us once again."
It seems to show that even though there is a need for friendship in each of us, it is equally as necessary for us to have our own space.
As the poem continues we see that what is taking place is almost like a game. In fact, he says;
"Oh, just another kind of outdoor game." And the narrator continues by saying, "We keep the wall between us as we go". This is almost like there is this game of leapfrog taking place!
"He is all pine and I am apple orchard,"
This seems to indicate that each of us are different. Having different likes, dislikes, etc. One of the men farms "apples", while the other just has "pines". Nonetheless, each are special and both of them contain separate, yet endearing qualities.
Now let's reflect on Frost's use of the "stone" itself. What could he have meant by this poem?
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned".
He is speaking to the stones. In other words he is telling them that if they are going to fall, please wait until he is not looking. This seems to be an odd touch to this poem. It almost appears that the man is so bored at times that he would talk about or to anything. Maybe the neighbor is not as much of a talker as one might have imagined. Maybe the man only has himself and these inanimate objects to converse with. After all, the only quote by the neighbor in this poem is;
"Good fences make good neighbors."
In another light however, there is the idea of separation, or segregation. I have briefly touched on the idea that the two men are consistently kept apart by this wall. In addition though, the author contrasts his "wall" of separation with the idea of segregation in our world. We are left with the impression that if two people have differences, no matter the extent, they are not considered equals by society.
Finally, there is the recurring idea that the wall should not be there in the first place.
"Something there is that doesn't love a wall."
This sentence infers that the wall separating we as a people, needs to come down. It is virtually impossible for us to build lasting relationships while we are still possessed with hatred and discrimination.