Examine Frost's treatment of the wall as a subject and as an image. What questions or issues does it allow him to explore?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The subject of mending a wall after it has been weakened by winter storms allows Frost to consider the images of two kinds of barriers—physical and emotional. Each character has a line summing up his philosophy about walls. The speaker proclaims, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” He asks to if there is a “something,” a conscious force or being in nature, that deliberately breaks down the stone wall on his property and also wants to break down walls between people? He hopes that mending the wall will allow him to do two things, fix the wall but also break down neighbor’s unfriendly, stonelike personality. However, the neighbor simply keeps repeating, “Good fences make good neighbors.” The speaker does not seem to realize the irony of the underlying question: Is the speaker’s attitude toward those two kinds of walls any more enlightened than the neighbor’s? For example, if the speaker doesn't believe in walls, why does he initiate the joint rebuilding each year? If the speaker doesn't believe in barriers between people, why does he call his neighbor “an old-stone savage armed” who “moves in darkness”? The speaker refuses to see the walls that block his own contradictions--thus he ends with "good fences [do} make good neighbors".