Working Together In Robert Frost's Mending Wall

930 words - 4 pages

Working Together in Robert Frost's Mending Wall


The air is cool and crisp. Roosters can be heard welcoming the sun to a new day and a woman is seen, wearing a clean colorful wrap about her body and head, her shadow casting a lone silhouette on the stone wall. The woman leans over to slide a piece of paper into one of the cracks, hoping her prayer will be heard in this city of Jerusalem. Millions are inserting their prayers into the walls of Japanese temples, while an inmate in one of a hundred prisons across the United States looks past his wall toward the prayers he did not keep. Billions fall asleep each night surrounded by four walls and thousands travel to China to witness the grandest one of all. Who builds walls and who tears them down?

The "Mending Wall" is the opening poem in Robert Frost's second book entitled, North of Boston. The poem portrays the casual part of life as seen by two farmers mending their wall. A great number of people might look at "Mending Wall" and see a simple poem about a simple aspect of life. If this is truly the case then why are so many drawn to the poem and what is found when more than a superficial look is spent on Robert Frost's work? The "Mending Wall" is an insightful look at social interactions as seen in the comparison of the repeated phrases and the traditional attitudes of the two farmers.

The speaker believes, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall"(Stanford 1, 28). What sets this line apart from others? First there are only two phrases repeated in this piece of Robert Frost's work and we hear the speaker posing the first of them. Due to an otherwise lack of repetition, we can see that Robert Frost is trying to exemplify to the reader the different perspectives of these farmers. Notice how the speaker has never identified what does not love a wall. The speaker is intelligent enough to understand the mechanics of a wall falling apart during the winter. He blames it upon the cold ravages of a winter swell and the indifferent attitude of hunters searching out a hare. By leaving the question a mystery the speaker is able to entertain himself with fantasies of elves and ideas of fiction, to fill a winter's long mind made mischievious by the spring season (Lentricchia 105).

In defense of why a wall should be maintained the farmer merely states his father's saying, "Good fences make good neighbors"(Frost 28). The farmer does not have any real proof of why the wall should be put back each spring, when there is no threat of livestock crossing the borders. ...

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