Frost repeats 2 lines in this poem:"Good fences make good neighbors". Why are these lines repeated?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Robert Frost's "Mending Wall" contains a philosophical argument between the narrator and his neighbor.

The narrator is not wholly at ease with the stone wall that separates his property from his neighbor's. The wall constantly needs repair, which leads the narrator to conclude that "something there is that doesn't love a wall." The narrator understands that a wall would be useful if he or his neighbor were cattlegrazers, "but here there are no cows."  The wall creates both a physical and emotional separation between the neighbors, and the narrator questions whether this is desirable:

 

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.

The neighbor, on the other hand, is strongly in favor of the wall. He has inherited a saying from his father: "Good fences make good neighbors."  Perhaps he means that people need to preserve boundaries between themselves.

The poem concludes with a repetition of the "Good fences make good neighbors" saying.  This can be interpreted in two ways.

*Perhaps the narrator is mocking the neighbor's position. In fact, he prefaces it with the statement, "He will not go behind his father's saying," seeming to mean that the neighbor is stubbornly sticking to an idea that is not sensible.

*Perhaps, instead, the narrator is concluding that he agrees with the neighbor.

What do you think? Should people preserve a certain distance between each other? Or should they open up and share their emotions with each other?

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