Explain how the speaker in Mending Wall's point of view shifts throughout the poem. Cite evidence from the poem to support your answer.

The point of view shifts from third person to first person singular and plural, then to dialogue mixed in with first person, then back to third person. Finally, the neighbor has the last word. The shifts create an energetic atmosphere with multiple moods and support distinctive characterization of two individuals.

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Mending Wall” begins with statements about walls, presented in third person. The perspective switches in Line 6 to a first-person speaker who explains their habit of coordinating wall repairs with their neighbor. The first-person speaker alternates between singular (“I”) and plural (“we”). The next section consists of dialogue between that speaker and the neighbor, interspersed with the speaker’s first-person unspoken observations and questions. At the end, the speaker uses first person but mainly describes the neighbor, then allows him the final line, which is repeated from their earlier dialogue: “Good fences make good neighbors.”

The numerous shifts help create multiple moods, as contemplation is mixed with action. This mixture roughly correlates with the two people presented. The speaker seems to be philosophical or imaginative person, speaking of such things as “love” for the wall, balancing stones with “a spell,” and the possibility that “elves” knock the walls down. Although what the reader learns of the neighbor is filtered through the speaker’s perspective, he emerges as a distinctive character. The neighbor seems to be an active but traditional man. He grasps stones firmly, and his opinion of the wall’s purpose is based in “his father’s saying.” The speaker emphasizes this connection with the past by having the neighbor repeat what seems to him a fact rather than an opinion.

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