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Comparison Essay - Mending Wall by Robert Frost & the Black Ball by Ralph Ellison

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Essay Preview: Comparison Essay - Mending Wall by Robert Frost & the Black Ball by Ralph Ellison

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Gretchen Larson

English 11B


Compare and Contrast Essay

        “When we seek for connection, we restore the world to wholeness. Our seemingly separate lives become meaningful as we discover how truly necessary we are to each other.” This quote from Margret J. Wheatley relates to the Modernism poem “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost and the short story “The Black Ball” by Ralph Ellison. Although these stories are about two completely different situations they connect with a similar theme. Through the use of aphorisms, symbolism, imagery, and diction these two authors demonstrate the theme of division of people and isolation through reasons that include but are not limited to race, lifestyle, beliefs, and more.

        “Good fences make good neighbors” (Frost), this is a quote from “Mending wall.” This snidbit from the poem means that some distance and boundaries make people get along better. The poem is about how two neighbors come together and form a stronger bound by mending their wall that has been wounded by hunters. “The Black Ball” focuses on the negative side effects of separation through giving insight to a black man who lives to work to provide for his son. This quote from the story enlightens others that being different can divide you from others and prevent your success, “Two fellows who worked at the building across the street had already been dismissed because whites had demanded their jobs…” (Ellison 345). These works of literature have many opposing views, but the idea of segregation of people is reflected in both.

        Division of people, it is apparent in all cultures in all walks of life. There is no avoiding it. One way in how these works of writing compare is the use of vibrant imagery and symbolism. In “The Black Ball” the quote, “…You’re going to find yourself behind the black ball” (Ellison 351) symbolizes how the black main character has to play the game of fitting in and doing as he’s told or he will be in trouble, in this case behind the black ball. The “Mending Wall” poem shows symbolism through the wall, it is using the action of building the wall again to help the relationship between the neighbors. “The Black Ball” is full of descriptive imagery, in this quote it feels as if you are seeing the words in real life “I turned, and there he stood; derby, long black coat, stick, nose glasses and all. He stood gazing into the brass like the wicked queen into her looking glass…” (Ellison 348) “I see him there bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top in each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.” (Frost) These quotes from both works use descriptions that are easy to understand and that the reader can relate. Although these works compare in parts they also differ in many.



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