Essay about Actual and Symbolic Barriers in Robert Frost's Mending Wall

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Actual and Symbolic Barriers in Robert Frost's Mending Wall The appearance of barriers, both literal and figurative, is significant to the narrative of Robert Frost's "Mending Wall." The story in this piece revolves around a wall separating two men, their yards, and their lives. The wall is not only a physical boundary; it also symbolizes the barriers between the two in other aspects of their lives. The most noticeable barrier in this work is obviously the wall dividing the yard. The reason for a wall between the trees is unknown to the narrator and the reader. The speaker questions the need for the fence when he says, "Before I built a wall I'd ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out, / And to whom I was like to give…show more content…
Wanting the boulders to fall after the other man's back is turned shows that they like to keep personal difficulties, and maybe even pleasures, within their own lives and not share them with others. At the same time, the wall offers the speaker a chance to be with people outside of his own private world. He does not need his neighbor in order to mend this side of the wall, because usually they each take care of their own sides. The speaker sees this spring time ritual as "just another kind of outdoor game, / One on a side." This suggests the speaker is in favor of companionship between he and his neighbor. Whether the neighbor takes pleasure in this "game" is not clear. The neighbor's motto is "Good fences make good neighbors." This ambiguous statement leaves the reader and speaker unsure of what causes the neighbor's desire for the wall. The neighbor returns to the ritual each year when he does have the choice of refusing; once he is there, though, he does not make any attempt to show that he is there for the company. Not knowing the neighbor's ideas of why fences are good neighbors creates a barrier between the reader and understanding him. The only perspective given is that of the speaker. The speaker's description of the neighbor is not positive. He describes the neighbor as "an old-stone

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