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Summary and Analysis of Mending

Wall by Robert Frost


Men build too many walls and not enough bridges -Isaac Newton
The poem Mending Wall by Robert Frost presents his ideas of barriers between
people, communication, friendship and the sense of safety that people acquire from
building barriers.
Summary:
Lines 1-9: The narrator expresses his wonder about a phenomenon, through these
lines, that he has observed in nature. He says that he has observed something
mysterious takes place in nature which does not love the existence of walls. That
something makes the frozen ground to bloat under the wall and topple the stone wall
on the boundary of his property. Hence, a gap is created in the wall through which two
people can pass together. Robert Frost says that sometimes even careless hunters
damage the walls but he drives them away and repairs the gap. The hunters pull down
the stones of the walls. This way they search for rabbits hiding under the wall to please
their barking dogs.
Lines 9-22: The poet rehearses the mystery of the wall. He says that no one has seen
or heard the noise when the gaps in the walls are made. But these gaps are realities
which are found during the spring when it is time for mending walls. The narrator makes
his neighbour go beyond the hill to see the conditions there. One day, the narrator along
with his neighbour decides to walk along the wall which separates their properties. They
find stones fallen on the ground while they are walking. They pick up those stones from
their respective sides. Some stones are shaped in bread loaves or some are shaped in
round balls. Hence, the narrator and his neighbour are unable to put those stones back
in their position. The narrator feels they need to use some kind of magic to put the
stones back on the wall. During the process of handling the stones, their fingers are
chapped and they feel tired. But the narrator and the neighbour look at it as an outdoor
game, a kind of net game, where the wall acts like a net and the narrator and his
neighbour are opponents.
Lines 22-36: The narrator tries to convince his neighbour that the wall is of no need
because the narrator has an apple orchard while the neighbour own pine trees. He says
that the apples that grow in his orchard would not trespass and eat the cones of his pine
trees. To this, the neighbour replies, Good fences make good neighbours. The narrator
is not sure whether he can put an idea into the neighbours mind- the idea why good
fences are required to keep cows at bay. If there are no cows, fences are not needed
either. The narrator tells that if he has to ever build a wall, he will ask himself whom he
will be protecting by constructing a wall and whether the wall will offend anyone. He
believes that there is something that does not love walls and wants it to be pulled down.
Lines 37-46:
The narrator tells his friend that he believes some non-human entity like elves break the
walls. The elves are tiny, supernatural beings from folklore and myth. But then the
narrator changes his opinion and feels that it may not be the work of the elves but the
power in nature which works against building of walls and barriers. The narrator sees
his neighbour holding firmly a stone looking like an ancient stone-age man, armed to

fight. The narrator feels that his neighbour is living in the darkness of ignorance. His
neigbour does not want to go against his fathers words that good fences make good
neighbours. Thinking for a while, his neighbour reiterates that Good fences make good
neighbours.
Analysis:
The theme of the poem is about two neighbours who disagree over the need of a wall to
separate their properties. Not only does the wall act as a divider in separating the
properties, but also acts as a barrier to friendship, communication. From the narrators
view, barriers lead to alienation and emotional isolation and loneliness. The narrator
cannot help but notice that the natural world seems to dislike the existence of a wall as
much as he does and therefore, mysterious gaps appear from nowhere and boulders
fall for no reason. The poem portrays the lack of friendship between two neighbours,
they now each other but they are not friends. There exists a communication gap
between them; they meet each other only on appointed days to fix the wall separating
their properties.
Thus, the poem is a sad reflection on todays society, where man-made barriers exist
between men, groups, nations based on discrimination of race, caste, creed, gender
and religion.
Form and Structure:
Mending Wall is a poem of 46 lines without a neat stanza structure. It is a dramatic
narrative poem composed in blank verse and also comprises of balanced strict Iambic
pentameter lines.
The language of the poem is conversational in tone.
Poetical Devices:
Robert Frost has used a number of poetical devices to enhance the perception and
feelings that he wants to communicate to the readers through an inanimate object, a
wall.
Metaphor: Examples of metaphors in the poem are listed below;
1. The wall in the poem is a metaphor for two kinds of barriers- physical and mental.
*Something there is that doesnt love a wall
*And set the wall between us once again
*We keep the wall between as we go.
2. In another metaphor, stone blocks have been compared to loaves and balls.
*And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance.
Simile:
Example of simile from the poem,I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed..
In the above lines, Frost describes his neighbour who was holding a stone firmly in his
hand and looked like some primitive man armed to fight.
Personification:
Something there is that doesnt love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

In the above lines, an unseen force in nature has been personified. It is this force that
breaks down the boundaries that man has created.
Parallelism:
It is a figure of speech that has a similar word order and structure in their syntax.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
Here, to each is parallelism as it emphasizes that fact that the narrator and his
neighbour are on the opposite sides of the wall.
Pun:
An example of Pun in the poem is And to whom I was like to offence. Here, the word
offence is a pun as it sounds like fence.
Paradox:
Frosts poems are famous for juxtaposing the opposites for life. The poem has two
famous lines which oppose each other.
Something there is that doesnt love a wall
Good fences make good neighbours.
Allusion:
Mending Wall has an allusion to elves, the tiny supernatural creatures drawn from
folklore and myth.
Alliteration:
The examples of alliteration in the poem are the following:
*We wear our fingers with handling them
*Before I built a wall
*What I was walling in or walling out.
Symbolism:
Frosts poems are known for his distinctive use of symbols. These symbols enhance the
significance and deeper meaning of the poem.
*The fence symbolizes national, racial, religious, political and economic conflicts and
discrimination which separate man from man and hinders the ways of understanding
and cultivating relationships.
*The dispute between the two neighbours symbolizes the clash between tradition and
modernity. The young generation wants to demolish the old tradition and replace it with
modernity while the old wants to cling on to the existing tradition and beliefs.
In Mending Wall, Frost has taken an ordinary incident of constructing or mending a
wall between the his and his neighbours garden and has turned it into a meditation on
the division between human beings.\

What does the wall represent in the


poem, Mending Wall?
The wall in the poem Mending Wall represents two view points of two different persons,
one by the speaker and the other by his neighbour. Not only does the wall act as a
divider in separating the properties, but also acts as a barrier to friendship,
communication. From the narrators view, barriers lead to alienation and emotional

isolation and loneliness. The narrator cannot help but notice that the natural world
seems to dislike the existence of a wall as much as he does and therefore, mysterious
gaps appear from nowhere and boulders fall for no reason. The poem portrays the lack
of friendship between two neighbours, they now each other but they are not friends.
There exists a communication gap between them; they meet each other only on
appointed days to fix the wall separating their properties.
Thus, the poem is a sad reflection on todays society, where man-made barriers exist
between men, groups, nations based on discrimination of race, caste, creed, gender
and religion.
On the other hand, the neighbour has different opinions. He believes that Good fences
make good neighbours. He considers walls as necessary to create physical barriers
and for mending relations. According the poets neighbour, physical barriers set limits
and affirm the rights of each and every individual. Walls also stand for building goodwill
and trust.
The wall is also an example of metaphor in the poem, Mending Wall.
The wall in the poem is a metaphor for two kinds of barriers- physical and mental.
*Something there is that doesnt love a wall
*And set the wall between us once again
*We keep the wall between as we go.
The fence symbolizes national, racial, religious, political and economic conflicts and
discrimination which separate man from man and hinders the ways of understanding
and cultivating relationships.
The dispute between the two neighbours symbolizes the clash between tradition and
modernity. The young generation wants to demolish the old tradition and replace it with
modernity while the old wants to cling on to the existing tradition and beliefs.
In Mending Wall, Frost has taken an ordinary incident of constructing or mending a
wall between his and his neighbors garden and has turned it into a meditation on the
division between human beings.

Frosts poems are known for his


extensive use of symbols and poetical

devices. Refer to the poem Mending


Wall and justify the statement.
The theme of the poem is about two neighbours who disagree over the need of a wall to
separate their properties. Not only does the wall act as a divider in separating the
properties, but also acts as a barrier to friendship, communication. From the narrators
view, barriers lead to alienation and emotional isolation and loneliness. The narrator
cannot help but notice that the natural world seems to dislike the existence of a wall as
much as he does and therefore, mysterious gaps appear from nowhere and boulders
fall for no reason. The poem portrays the lack of friendship between two neighbours,
they now each other but they are not friends. There exists a communication gap
between them; they meet each other only on appointed days to fix the wall separating
their properties.
Thus, the poem is a sad reflection on todays society, where man-made barriers exist
between men, groups, nations based on discrimination of race, caste, creed, gender
and religion.
Mending Wall is a poem of 46 lines without a neat stanza structure. It is a dramatic
narrative poem composed in blank verse and also comprises of balanced strict Iambic
pentameter lines.
The language of the poem is conversational in tone.
Robert Frost has used a number of poetical devices to enhance the perception and
feelings that he wants to communicate to the readers through an inanimate object, a
wall.
Metaphor: Examples of metaphors in the poem are listed below;
1. The wall in the poem is a metaphor for two kinds of barriers- physical and mental.
*Something there is that doesnt love a wall
*And set the wall between us once again
*We keep the wall between as we go.
2. In another metaphor, stone blocks have been compared to loaves and balls.
*And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance.
Simile:
Example of simile from the poem,I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed..

In the above lines, Frost describes his neighbour who was holding a stone firmly in his
hand and looked like some primitive man armed to fight.
Personification:
Something there is that doesnt love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
In the above lines, an unseen force in nature has been personified. It is this force that
breaks down the boundaries that man has created.
Parallelism:
It is a figure of speech that has a similar word order and structure in their syntax.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
Here, to each is parallelism as it emphasizes that fact that the narrator and his
neighbour are on the opposite sides of the wall.
Pun:
An example of Pun in the poem is And to whom I was like to offence. Here, the word
offence is a pun as it sounds like fence.
Paradox:
Frosts poems are famous for juxtaposing the opposites for life. The poem has two
famous lines which oppose each other.
Something there is that doesnt love a wall
Good fences make good neighbours.
Allusion:
Mending Wall has an allusion to elves, the tiny supernatural creatures drawn from
folklore and myth.
Alliteration:
The examples of alliteration in the poem are the following:
*We wear our fingers with handling them
*Before I built a wall
*What I was walling in or walling out.
Frosts poems are known for his distinctive use of symbols. These symbols enhance the
significance and deeper meaning of the poem.
*The fence symbolizes national, racial, religious, political and economic conflicts and
discrimination which separate man from man and hinders the ways of understanding
and cultivating relationships.
*The dispute between the two neighbours symbolizes the clash between tradition and

modernity. The young generation wants to demolish the old tradition and replace it with
modernity while the old wants to cling on to the existing tradition and beliefs.
In Mending Wall, Frost has taken an ordinary incident of constructing or mending a
wall between the his and his neighbours garden and has turned it into a meditation on
the division between human beings.
Therefore, we can justify the statement that Robert Frost uses symbols and distinctive
poetical devices in his poems to enhance the theme of the poem more effectively.