What is the irony in "Mending Wall"?

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The irony in "Mending Wall" is that the wall the speaker and his neighbor mend has no physical purpose. However, the wall seems to serve a social function.

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The irony in the poem is that the wall is, on a practical level, pointless but serves a social function.

Every spring, the speaker and his neighbor meet to repair the stone wall that separates their properties. The speaker complains in the poem that he does not see the point...

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in this ritual. He questions his neighbor's conventional wisdom that says they must do this because "good fences make good neighbors." Rationally speaking, neither of them has "cows" or other livestock that could trample or eat the other person's crop, so there is no reason to go to the effort of mending the wall. He thinks of the neighbor as backward in his insistence on maintaining seemingly pointless old traditions and thinks of him as an "old-stone savage armed" as the neighbor grasps a stone by the top in each hand.

Despite its physical purposelessness, the wall is socially meaningful. On one level, it maintains harmony between the neighbors by clearly portioning off their respective properties. This seems to be the primary meaning of the the neighbor's recurrent phrase. Metaphorically, the wall represents the boundaries of custom and tradition, which serve their purpose in regulating human life. Finally, it can be argued that the wall allows the neighbors to bond, giving them an opportunity to come together each year. It is hard work to repair the wall, but the speaker seems to enjoy it. The two men talk, jokingly cast "spells" to keep precarious stones in place, and grow closer over the shared labor. All of this, supported by the neighbor's traditional wisdom, shows there is a value in the wall, even in the absence of any practical rationale for it.

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What is irony in the poem "Mending Wall"?  

Perhaps the greatest irony in the poem "Mending Wall" is that the speaker continues to help rebuild the wall even as he realizes he disagrees with its presence. As the poem progresses, the speaker notes how all sorts of natural forces, like the ground and animals, conspire to take down the wall each winter. However, he and his neighbor gather each spring to put it back together. On this particular rebuilding date, the speaker starts to internally question why the wall exists. He wonders why it is needed if he and his neighbor's trees don't interfere with each other's property. He starts to even feel offended, thinking his neighbor is trying to box him out through this wall. Despite the speaker's probably true fear, he and the neighbor meet and put the wall together, almost ritualistically. This is a social experience, though the neighbor's insistence on keeping the wall suggests that he wants to isolate himself or separate his property from that of the speaker. This, of course, is another instance of irony in the poem, because they join together to keep themselves apart.

When the speaker asks himself why the neighbor doesn't consider what he is "walling out," he implies that the neighbor is shutting down community and communication by requiring the rebuilding of the wall. The neighbor can only answer that "good fences make good neighbors," and the imagery the speaker uses to describe the neighbor at the end of the poem strongly conveys the speaker's attitude that the neighbor's view is backward and pessimistic. At the end of the poem, though, there is no real reason to believe the two won't meet again next spring and rebuild the wall all over again.

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What is irony in the poem "Mending Wall"?  

Irony is created when there is some discrepancy or contrast between what is expected to happen and what actually happens. One irony of this poem, then, is that the speaker does not like fences or walls and, yet, he participates in the upkeep of the wall between his property and his neighbor's; we would expect him to refuse to do this work. The speaker actually feels that walls are unnatural. They get knocked down by the "frozen-ground-swell" when winter comes, and the rocks on top sometimes fall down as a result of various weather conditions.

It is also ironic that a wall exists and continues to be meticulously maintained by the speaker and his neighbor, where it is not needed. The speaker declares that, where the wall stands, it divides his own apple trees from his neighbor's pine trees. He even tells his neighbor that the apples will never cross the boundary and eat his pinecones like livestock might, and those pinecones will never cross the boundary to eat the speaker's apples. There is absolutely no need for the wall to exist and, yet, the neighbors keep fixing it year after year, defying expectation.

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What is irony in the poem "Mending Wall"?  

This particular Robert Frost poem is pointing out a situational irony that can be found in the act of putting up boundaries between people. The poem itself is about the narrator and his neighbor who both have to work every year to mend the wall along their property line. The wall gets broken for various reasons in the poem, and the narrator is perfectly willing to just let the wall be done for good. He and his neighbor have completely different crops, and those crops won't affect each other regardless of the wall's presence.

There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
The neighbor, though, feels that the wall itself creates good relationships between the two men.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
It's ironic that something designed to keep people apart would actually function as a way of keeping things cordial. It doesn't make sense to the narrator, but the neighbor probably feels that the wall is a concrete indicator that shows each person what belongs to whom. There is less chance for any kind of argument between the two men because the wall exists.
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What is irony in the poem "Mending Wall"?  

In Robert Frost's poem, "Mending Wall," the speaker considers the idea of the wall in his yard and wonders why it is necessary. He prefers that there is no wall between he and his neighbor so they can have access to each other. However, the neighbor feels otherwise and believes that "good fences make good neighbors." He believes that walls or fences set up healthy boundaries between neighbors and that keeping an element of privacy makes for better relationships.

The irony is that putting a wall up between yourself and someone else seems like it would do the opposite--it seems like it would create a barrier, distance. For some people, it would. The speaker, for instance, thinks no fences would make good neighbors. Yet, the neighbor prefers a barrier, regardless of how ironic it may seem. For him, that is what makes him comfortable and makes him feel more neighborly towards the speaker.

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How is "Mending Wall" ironic?

Walls are generally built to protect and secure. They are there to either keep out what is bad or unwanted, or to keep in what is valuable and important. Ironically, though, it seems that the wall between the speaker and his neighbor serves no purpose. The speaker states in lines 22 to 23:

It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall....
The speaker is clearly aware of the fact that they do not need the wall. He emphasizes this:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines....
The speaker considers it absurd that his apple trees would ever cross over into his neighbor's property and feed on "the cones under his pines." He also muses that
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.
It seems however, that his neighbor does not share his sentiment and stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the speaker's entirely logical argument. Even though the speaker has obviously stated that the wall would only have served a purpose if they had cows, his neighbor is determined to maintain the barrier. This creates further irony since the two neighbors, it seems, regularly go about fixing whatever damage—from natural or other causes—the wall has suffered when there is actually no need to do so.    This act of neighborliness introduces more irony because the one thing that literally keeps them apart is also that which brings them together. They are involved in a joint act when fixing the damage.   The speaker seems somewhat resentful about his neighbor's obviously obstinate stance:
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."
It appears as if the neighbor is a staunch believer in his father's principle of "Good fences make good neighbours." The speaker adopts a cynical tone in this regard and sees the neighbor's insistence as something uncivilized, somewhat aggressive and sinister. He mentions:
I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
The speaker seems to believe that the neighbor has a less friendly ulterior motive for retaining and maintaining the wall. This is, in itself, also ironic, for in the speaker's eyes, there is nothing good in maintaining a useless partition when, if they are such good neighbors, they don't need to be separated at all.  
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How is "Mending Wall" ironic?

Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall" is told in the first person. The narrator describes the task of maintaining a wall between the neighbor's pine trees and his own apple orchard. The wall is difficult to maintain. It is a dry stone wall that partially collapses due to snow and freezing in winter and parts sometimes get knocked down by hunters. The narrator speculates that there is no real reason for the wall's existence, as there is nothing to be walled in or out, and the wall is neither high nor durable. 

The main irony in the poem has to do with the phrase the narrator's neighbor repeats, "Good fences make good neighbours." On the one hand, it seems odd, as fences separate people. The narrator speculates, though, that in the case of dairy farmers, a wall prevents mingling of animal herds and ensuing disputes. The irony is that although the narrator and his neighbor have little in common, the shared annual duty of mending the wall brings them together, and thus maintaining good fences, does, in fact, serve to make them good neighbors by letting them bond over this shared task. 

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