Mending Wall Questions and Answers
by Robert Frost

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What is the summary of "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

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Each year, a couple of neighbors meet up to repair the stone wall that divides their respective properties. The annual ritual is a source of irritation to the speaker, who thinks it's just a complete waste of time. Neither man has any livestock; there's nothing on the land except apples and pine trees. So why on earth do they have go through this pointless rigmarole every single year? It's not just the speaker who seems not to care for the wall, either: boulders fall without any apparent reason; strange gaps start to appear. It's as if nature is expressing its displeasure at this man-made intrusion into its age-old domain. The speaker's neighbor, however, is a firm believer in the old adage that good fences make good neighbors. And he stubbornly continues to stand his ground, despite the best efforts of the speaker to convince him otherwise.

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epollock | Student


Robert Frost sets the poem in the New England countryside in spring. The speaker and his neighbor are building a physical wall on the edge of their properties, but a wall of misunderstanding between the two is already in place. The speaker wants to engage his neighbor in debate and discussion, but the neighbor prefers quiet and refuses to argue. The images in the poem, though, invite the reader to imagine not only the relationship between this speaker and neighbor, but also the nature of relationships in general.

Frost also places emphasis on the point that it is not the neighbor (who believes that “good fences make good neighbors”) who initiates the ritual of mending the wall; rather, it is the speaker: “I let my neighbor know beyond the hill.” This suggests that “if fences do not ‘make good neighbors,’ the making of fences can,” for it makes for talk—even though the neighbor is hopelessly taciturn.

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