Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Robert Frost "Mending Wall"

            It is difficult for the neighbor to grasp the concept of change because his meaning for life is deeply rooted in family and social tradition.  The boundary of the wall represents tradition, but the speaker thinks traditions can be broken.  If nature is conspiring to destroy the wall constantly this habit of mending the wall is futile.  The speaker is looking for the true intentions of this neighbor for mending the wall.  The wall offends him because he does not see any fault in himself that his neighbor must be seeing.  To the speaker, barriers are not good because “something” obviously does not want them there.  For the neighbor, barriers are good because his father told him so.  Tradition is what blinds the neighbor from looking from the speaker’s perspective.  There are no different versions of reality in the neighbor’s eyes.
            The necessity for boundaries is called into question from this poem. Some people love boundaries because they provide protection and privacy. Boundaries are a haven when people want peace and solitude. The segregation that boundaries provide is a downside because people are kept from communicating with and understanding each other.  This separation can also be offensive to people who want to coexist with others, seeing no need for fences or walls of division.
An initial reading of The Mending Wall is a pleasant experience as the author expresses rather simple thoughts concerning a division that exists between the property of himself and his neighbor.  However, additional readings uncover rather subtle implications about a love for wildlife as well as disgust with those who take the lives of creatures in the wild.  That disgust is then directed to any inequities that existed in the world of 1913, including racism, sexism, religious persecution and social status.  In this poem, Robert Frost is reaching out to all of humankind in an effort to highlight wrongs and to suggest change.  Much of that change remains unrealized since Mending Wall was written.  Perhaps it is time for all world leaders to take the time to digest these phrases and impart the healthy assimilation of the goodness found throughout our world, putting aside negative traditions that hamper change.

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