“Do fences really make good neighbors? ” In “Mending Wall, written by Robert Frost, the speaker of the poem argues within himself if his neighbor truly understands the full meaning of his act walling in and walling out and why does his neighbor believe in such a senseless act of “mending time”? In lines 32-34, Frost states, “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 offence”, here the speaker is curious to the fact of why even wall something in or out if you don’t know what “it” is.
In all actuality the “thing” the neighbor walling out is change and what he is walling in is himself. Instinct is to protect oneself from the outsides forces of reality and not to allow any “thing” to harm oneself from within. In “Mending Wall”, the speaker watches his neighbor subconsciously battle the war of change through “mending” time. The speaker believes “spring mending time” is a senseless act and tries to comprehend the thoughts of his neighbor of why he believes so deeply in “mending time”.
Lines 24-26 help the reader understand how diverse the speaker and the neighbor are intellectually; “He is all pine and I am apple orchard. / My apple trees will never get across / And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him”. Even though the neighbor is “all pine”, a constant and an unchanging being, and the speaker, the “apple orchard” that lives and changes with the times, how each ones sees life, their own thoughts won’t swag each other into believing one thing over another.
With that, the neighbor is still trapped on the old belief of what is father once told him; “Good fences make good neighbors”, and even though the speaker believes mending time is pointless and a wasteful act, he himself cannot seem to stop coming to wall at the same time every year, possibly believing that maybe he has a somewhat fear of change, unconsciously growing during “mending time”.
Through the mind & thoughts of the speaker, Frost grasp the meaning of how bashful someone can be to even the thought of change and how they take extra precautions to prevent change. In line 40, the speaker refers to his neighbor as a “old-stone savage”, which he is saying in fewer words that his neighbor is stuck in a very stone-aged routine not allowing life to alter and when change becomes upon him, he ignores it, like a savage would.
When the speaker tries to understand what exactly his neighbor is walling out in lines 30-31, “‘Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it / Where there are cows? But here there are no cows. ” the speaker comes to the conclusion that the neighbor doesn’t know what he is even walling out, since in fact, “there are no cows” and that the neighbor is stuck in a routine of walling out, unconsciously. The question the speaker as is why is the neighbor walling out something he doesn’t know exist or doesn’t exist?
With the dark fear of change constantly growing within the neighbors mind, it prevents him from transforming from within and allowing change to happen. The speaker says, “He moves in darkness as it seems to me, / Not of woods only and the shades of trees”, here what the speaker is saying is that the speakers mind is dark and closed off to change without knowing so. The neighbor is not allowing any light of knowledge in to help him understand change and how not to wall out the “things” he is walling out.
“Mending Wall” covers the topic of how someone can be completely oblivious to the idea of change and when the idea of change is upon them, they hide in the darkness of their mind. Frost took upon the challenge through the speaker of the poem and the speaker’s neighbor as they went through their annual “mending time”. The speaker questioned how the neighbor could allow for himself to become fixated into a pattern of walling in and walling out without knowing who or what “things” he is keeping in or out.
In lines 32-34, as I quoted before, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know / What I was walling in or walling out, / And who I was like to give offence”, directly from the thoughts of the speaker, he states and states again that he cannot comprehend then mind of his neighbor, since he is “all pine” and the way their minds work, one constantly allowing change and the other hiding, they can and never do see eye to eye on the matter of change and how beautiful it can become.
Work Cited: Barlow, Dudley. “The More Things Change.. ” Education Digest 73. 7(2008): 67-71. Education Full Text (H. W. Wilson). Web 9 Apr. 2013 Barlow, Dudley. “Snared By The Past. ” Education Digest 72. 3 (2006): 64-69. Education Full Text (H. W. Wilson). Web. 9 Apr. 2013. http://www. poetryfoundation. org/poem/173530