Robert Frost Explains Why Do Good Fences Make Good Neighbors?

Decent Essays
Robert Frost examines what role fences play in shaping relationships between neighbors. Do neighbors get along better because of walls separating their properties? Frost quotes his neighbor several times as saying “good fences make good neighbors.” But the idea has several interpretations. The most obvious meaning is that walls separate people from one another and that this separation eliminates the possibilities for feuds or disappointments, or trespassing, both literally and figuratively, on a neighbor’s domain. A second possibility is that fences make for good neighbors because each year Frost must work with his neighbor to repair the fence. The joint cooperative effort means that the neighbors have a reason to get together at least…show more content…
Frost views the wall as unnecessary. Frost accepts that sometimes walls are necessary. He mentions cows crossing over to neighbors’ property as an example. But Frost and his neighbor have no livestock. They have only trees, and Frost points out that his apple trees are not going to cross the property boundary to eat the pine cones of the neighbor’s pine trees. Frost sees no need for a wall, yet he recognizes that maintaining the wall keeps the neighbor happy. In this way the unnecessary wall is necessary. Several similes are used in the poem. One is the presentation of the neighbor grasping stones in each hand “like an old-stone savage armed.” This creates a vision of a rustic and unimaginative neighbor stuck in his ideas like someone from the Stone Age. The stone-age is tied to mere survival without any beauty or imagination. The neighbor lives in such a rut. Frost uses trees as a metaphor to define himself and his neighbor: “He is all pine and I am apple orchard.” The apple orchard is productive as well as beautiful. The pine trees exist and do not produce such a beautiful fruit. Pine trees are sturdy and unimaginative, like the neighbor. The tone and feel of the poem are natural and conversational. The forty-five lines appear in an uninterrupted stanza. It appears to the eye as a wall of sorts. Each line of this blank verse poem is in iambic
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