In "The Mending Wall," the speaker is a practical man who sees himself as more modern, free thinking, and rational than his traditional neighbor. The speaker is irritated about having to the repair the stone wall between two properties, but he has a sense of humor about it. He is also thoughtful and caring enough to participate in the ritual for the sake of his neighbor.
The spring weather bringing out his mischievous sense of humor, the speaker questions the practicality of fixing the wall:
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?
This is a challenge to his neighbor's sense of tradition: the speaker notes to himself that neither of them have livestock that could wander onto the other's property and do damage, so he fantasizes about letting the wall disappear. He likens his neighbor to an "old-stone savage." He sees the neighbor as living in "darkness" because he is unable to question the tradition that good fences makes...
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