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Mending Wall: Symbolism and Theme

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Mending Wall: Symbolism and Theme

Robert Frost's, "Mending Wall," (1065-66) is a poem of great symbolism. Like other works Frost has created, "Mending Wall," takes a story that seems relatively simple on the surface and, through symbolism, complicates it to fit the lives of many different people. As varied as the lives of people are, worldwide, Frost had a superior way in using symbolism to intrigue the reader and whet their appetite to dig deeper into his stories and poems. "Mending Wall," is no different. The wall, being the theme of the poem, seems simple enough; however, the vast symbolism pulls the reader deeper into a plethora of possible ideas about life and the many different walls we face every day.

As the theme suggest, walls are simple things. They are instruments of demarcation that separate things, ideals, and people. Some walls keep things in, while other walls keep things out. Some walls do both. The neighbor's statement, "Good fences make good neighbors," (1. 27) suggest his traditional viewpoint about the wall. The wall itself, made neither of the neighbors good. It was only a statement one neighbor made to perpetuate a tradition set by his father. Many walls are erected and maintained to perpetuate tradition, not protect anything. The narrator gives evidence there is nothing on either side of the wall that needs separating for safety sake (1. 25, 26).

The narrator gives further evidence that there must be something, possibly unseen, which "doesn't love a wall," (1. 1). Even though the narrator makes mention that hunters and their dogs must be breaking down the wall in the winter (1. 5-9), mention is also made that no one sees or hears their destruction (1. 9, 10). The narrator also suggests that other unseen forces tend to break down walls. One such force, the narrator suggests, is that of frost, which causes the ground to swell and crack the mortar holding the stones together (1. 2, 3). This is to suggest to the reader that even nature tends to break down walls between us. To elaborate this issue, in nature, the more things are organized, the more they tend to be unstable. In other words, organized walls, being unstable, are much more likely to fall apart and become stable stones on the ground. It is only by the efforts we, as humans, put forth to maintain the edifices we have erected that separate us from each other.

It is ironic that the very thing, which keeps the neighbors separated, also brings them together. Each year, in the spring, the two meet, to, "walk the line," (1. 13). Each on his own side and separated, yet together, in a common goal, to repair the breeches created by the unseen forces. The narrator expresses his confusion about the reason why he and his neighbor repair the wall each year, comparing it to being, "just another kind of outdoor game," (1.

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