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Mending Wall by Robert Frost: An Analysis

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In its explicit narration, the poem simply describes the regular work restoration of walls between two neighbors that basically delineates their properties.  Each is consistently fixing their walls warily even if one stone is missing.  However in such a simple scenario, the poems also posts deeper issues that is subject to a reader’s interpretation. While every detail of the poem is simply imaginable with respect to the fixing fences, every line nevertheless has a significant second meaning.  Incidentally the construction of the poem in a single stanza may have implied the consistency of the activities contained in the poem which ended with a question which denotes its perpetuation.  More than just fixing the fences, the poem actually talks about the need for respecting our differences and at the same time transcending from these differences to foster unity and fight the common enemies that plagues humanity.

Mending the Wall

The core issue discussed in “Mending the Wall” is differences and conflicts.  In its literal sense, walls and fences are meant to separate properties or possessions of one from another.  It only takes a single wall to delineate properties but both neighbors persistently provided their time and effort to fix their walls.  As a matter of nature, everyone build walls to protect themselves.  As a matter of duty, everyone build their walls to contribute their fair share in maintaining order.  Under these premises, the walls imply respect of differences.  (Hirsch, E.D. et al) Individuals have rights over their properties but the execution of this right has a limitation.  The right of a person ends where the right of another one begins.  This is an unwritten rule which entails the sensitivity of every person to contribute to knowing their bounds.  This is precisely why both neighbors took the initiative to fix the walls if necessary.  Otherwise if only one person created a wall and fixes the same, there is in imbalance and unfairness that can be perceived.

The poem also describes the different forces that damages the walls, to wit, “that sends the frozen ground swell under it and spills the upper boulders in the sun…”.  In terms of our differences, the former may refer to the critical ideas that challenge the foundations of our different beliefs while the latter may pertain to new ideas that can enlighten us to understand new things.

It is important to note that amidst their individual ends in fixing their fences, the neighbors were also able to build a harmonious relationship with each other.  Hence, while building walls segregates them, that mutual respect for their differences is able to permit good relationship with the each other. Incidentally, this is also why the other neighbor in the end commented, “Good fences make good neighbors.”  Because of differences in properties, values, beliefs and behavior, people should know their bounds with respect to others.  And this duty must be inherent on everyone.  All individuals must dole out their fair share in maintaining order in society.

The twist in the poems comes at the latter part when the first person neighbor i.e. speaker of the poem, stated that “There where it is we do not need the wall: He is all pine and I am apple orchard”.  This neighbor tries to reach out to the other neighbor that although they are different, there is no conflict.  At this point, the poem may have symbolically referring to the conflicts that arise to society such as gender segregation. (Kilcup)  Hence, while the poem recognizes the need for walls as a means to respect each other differences i.e. culture and religion, it also adheres that the walls are unnecessary because these differences that are not at odds against each other but are actually complementary.

For instance in terms of religion, there is no conflict because a belief in Allah doesn’t necessarily follow or logically negate a belief in Jesus.  Everyone ultimately believes in a God for salvation, endeavors to act the will of their individual Gods which is morally good and homogeneously adheres for peace, love, hope happiness and prosperity.  In as much as we must complement each other because of differences, the poem also implied that we should joined forces to combat a common enemy, which is evil.  In the line, “Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it Where there are cows? But here there are no cows”, the poem ultimately suggest that there is no evil or enemy among ourselves so there is no point of making these walls.


People are basically different in terms of race, gender, religion and culture. The walls that people create symbolize respect of these differences.  Walls are necessary to maintain order and unity in our diverse community especially in global terms.  However, these differences do not necessarily mean conflicts. Our differences do not impose conflicts because there is not point of comparison.  An apple is different from a pine.  Instead of grouping ourselves because of our differences, neighbor should instead harness these differences to achieve progress by transforming our comparative differences to advantages.  People should focus more on the similarities.  We are basically the same in more ways than the temporal characteristics of color, beliefs, culture, sexual orientation, wealth or social standing.  We all live in a common planet.  We have the same biological make up.  We have the same basic needs.  We are all equally subjected to physical laws.  We all need to be loved and to belong. And we are all gifted with a temporary life.  We all want happiness, peace and love.  Focusing on our differences breeds and supports extreme forms of segregation i.e. oppression and discrimination that will ultimately disunite people of the world. Instead of grouping ourselves based on our differences, people should concentrate on binding themselves to fight the common evils that they face such as hatred, hunger, and suffering.


Frost, Robert. and Hellmann, M. Mending Wall Holburne Press, 2000

Hirsch, Eric Donald , Kett, Joseph F. and Trefil, James S.. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Houghton Mifflin Books, 2002

Kilcup. Karen L. Robert Frost and Feminine Literary Tradition. University of Michigan Press, 1999

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