What are some metaphors used in Robert Frost's "Mending Wall"?

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We keep the wall between us as we go.

The central metaphor in this poem is the wall itself. It comes to represent the divisions between people, things that keep them apart. The speaker notes that he actually doesn't see a need for the division; his neighbor has pine trees, and he himself has apple trees, so it isn't like the wall is accomplishing a real function as it would if they both had cows, for instance. When he asks his neighbor why they have to stand divided, his neighbor answers vaguely: "Good fences make good neighbours." The speaker can't see the practicality in this statement. Therefore, the barriers we construct to divide us from other people are sometimes erected based on things we've heard before but have no practical application.

He is all pine and I am apple orchard.

The pines and apple trees are metaphors for their differences. Pine trees often symbolize longevity; he uses them as a metaphor here to explain how his neighbor carries the traditions of his father: "He will not go behind his father's saying." Because his father believed in this division, he will stand behind the belief. Apple trees often symbolize an appreciation of beauty and peace. The speaker longs to live in peace with his neighbor and therefore cannot see the necessity for the wall; they meet here every year with a common goal and have no ill will. The two men have different views of their world.

Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
The cows become metaphors for things that could divide them, differences that would create a division and would necessitate the construction of barriers. But the speaker can find no difference that he holds against his neighbor that makes a division necessary, and he can't imagine that he's done anything in return that would cause his neighbor to feel this way.
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The wall itself is an extended metaphor. Frost wants to convey the idea that, as human beings, we often construct artificial boundaries between one another. What's more, we tend not to think about why we even do this. This unreflective attitude is expressed by the neighbor's homespun-cliché: "Good fences make good neighbors." But the narrator slyly suggests that good neighbors shouldn't need to make fences in the first place.

The wall doesn't simply separate the neighbor from the narrator; it separates him from himself. He has become estranged from his fundamental humanity by his insistence on the need to keep things and other people away from his property. Instead of looking upon the natural world as something to be cherished, venerated, and preserved, he sees it as an object to be controlled, divided, and exploited.

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A metaphor is defined as a comparison that does not use explicit comparison words such as "like" or "as." So if you said "my love is a red, red rose" you would be using a metaphor, but the statement "my love is like a red, red rose" would be a simile because it uses the word "like," an explicit term of comparison. Critics describe metaphor as consisting of a tenor, the main subject of the comparison, and a vehicle, the thing being compared to the tenor. Thus in comparing one's beloved to a rose (as in Burns' poem), the rose would be the vehicle and the beloved the tenor. In general, metaphor tries to explain the unfamiliar or hard-to-describe in terms of something simpler or easier to describe.

Frost uses several metaphors in "Mending Wall." The phrase "some are loaves and some so nearly balls" compares rocks to loaves of bread and balls implicitly without using words such as like and as. Similarly, the description of wall building as an "outdoor game" is also a metaphor comparing the wall repair to a form of sport or entertainment.

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A metaphor is a comparison that does notuse the words "like" or "as."  For example, if I say that a little girl "is a doll," I don't mean that she is actually a doll; rather, I am comparingher beauty and cuteness to the beauty and cuteness of a doll.

In "Mending Wall," Robert Frost uses several metaphors:

a. "To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls"

The poet is describing stones that have fallen from a stone wall.  The poet describes the shapes of the stones by saying that some are shaped like loaves of bread and some are almost the shape of a ball.


b. "Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side"

The poet says that the activity of collecting the fallen stones is like a "kind of outdoor game."


The central  metaphor in the poem is expressed by the narrator's neighbor, who says, "Good fences make good neighbors."  The neighbor seems to be saying that fences are like a line that maintains good relationships between neighbors by showing each neighbor where he belongs.  The narrator questions whether this is true:

Why do they make good neighbors?...

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.

 

c. 

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In "Mending Wall," what does the wall mean to the speaker?

The speaker would prefer not to have the wall since they have to mend it every year and neither neighbor has livestock.

The speaker does not like having the wall.  He finds it inconvenient and kind of pointless, since neither of the neighbors have livestock that might cross from one person’s land to the other.  It also needs repair each year, which is annoying.

Every spring, the speaker and his neighbor meet for a day to repair the wall.  Its stones need to be replaced.

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;

And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each. 

The speaker’s point is that there is no real reason to have the wall there at all, let alone to keep it in good repair.  The neighbor claims that good fences make good neighbors.  He clearly prefers some separation between them.  The speaker doesn’t see the point.  He has apple trees, and his neighbor has pine trees.  The trees are not going to run away or interfere with the other’s yard like livestock would do.

The speaker is skeptical of the idea that the fence is helping them be good neighbors.  He does not see it as any more than an inconvenience.

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."

Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder

If I could put a notion in his head:

"Why do they make good neighbours?  

Apparently, this is an old adage of the neighbor’s passed down from his father.  So the speaker agrees, and every year they mend the wall.  It is the best way to keep the peace between them, since that is what the neighbor wants.

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In "The Mending Wall" by Robert Frost, what does the wall symbolize?

One of the great things about poetry is that it is intended to evoke a response from the reader, but each reader need not have an identical response. Thus, when discussing what something in a poem may, or may not, symbolize, one should frame said discussion in terms of possibilities.

With respect to Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” one possibility is that the wall symbolizes a shared obligation. In the first two thirds of the poem, this is what the wall seems to symbolize to the speaker of the poem. The speaker does not see a practical purpose for the wall, nor, at first, does the speaker appreciate the neighbor’s assertion that good fences make good neighbors. The speaker feels obligated to mend the wall each year because the neighbor wishes to mend it.

Another possibility is that the wall symbolizes a needed separation between the neighbors. This appears to be what it symbolizes to the neighbor. Like the speaker, the neighbor does not seem to believe that the wall has a practical use, such as keeping out livestock, but the neighbor does apparently see a need for the division of land to be marked, and for that marker to be mended each year. This fits with the maxim about good fences making good neighbors in that the wall provides a boundary and prevents disputes or misunderstandings about where one neighbor’s land ends and the other’s begins, thus reducing the chance of acrimony between the neighbors.

A third possibility is that the wall symbolizes the relationship between the neighbors themselves. From what the speaker tells us, the two do not seem to have much in common, and it appears that mending the wall may be the only activity they do together. In coming together to mend the wall, they also, in a sense, make sure their relationship as neighbors remains intact. Like the wall, that relationship has few practical consequences in their daily lives, but their yearly shared labor on the wall gives them a chance to interact and work together. In this way, the wall is making them good neighbors, not by keeping out livestock or demarcating their separate properties, but by bringing them together in a common goal, thereby maintaining their relationship as neighbors.

A reader of the poem may identify with one of these possibilities more than another, depending on that reader’s life experiences and world view, or a reader may identify with an interpretation of the reader’s own. Or, a reader may see all three possibilities, as well as perhaps other possibilities, working together to create layers of meaning. In such, each reader is having a response to the poem, and in some way understanding a deeper, symbolic meaning of the wall.

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

This poem presents two view of a wall between two orchards.  I lived in New England, and these walls are somtimes low walls that were originally intended to keep cows in their pasture (doesn't take much of a wall to keep them in place), but which continued in place long after they were useful.  The wall between the orchards in this poem are useless since we're separating orchards and the trees won't devour each other.  But this doesn't mean that walls are useless.  They key lines for me have always been these:


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.

 

Sometimes, as in this poem, walls serve no purpose and are only maintained out of habit and superstition.  Sometime, however, there ARE things to protect, whether property, or information, or things about ourselves.    Just think before you build a wall ... do I need this?  Does it serve a purpose?  Will it help relationships?  If the answer is yes, then by all means build it.

 

 

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

This, as other Frost poems, is delightful in its ambiguity, and there are certainly several interpretations to its meaning. I will offer mine.

The poem is concerned with the obvious divide between two neighbours. Their farms - both arable - are separated by a wall which is annually attacked by both nature and man, and each year the two neighbors embark on rebuilding this divide.

The purpose of mending the wall seems to have different meanings for the two men. For the narrator, it is an opportunity to socialise with his neigbor, to embark on a task together. For the neighbor, it is a necessary act to maintain the gulf between them. The neighbour retains his 'savage' view that -

“Good fences make good neighbors.”

Whereas the narrator sees the wall itself as unnecessary-

My apple trees will never get across

And eat the cones under his pines.

However, for the time that the two men are 'mending wall' they are unified despite their differences.

 

 

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What are some of meanings of the Wall in "Mending Wall" by Robert Frost?

Well done for identifying the deliberate ambiguity of the central image of the wall. Of course, this ambiguity is created in part thanks to the other word of the title, "mending," which is used as both a verb and an adjective in the poem, so we are never too sure how this central image is to be read. However, it is suggested that the act of mending the wall is one that is used to help maintain the relationship between the speaker and his neighbour. Of course, the wall refers to two kinds of barriers that we erect in our lives, both emotional and physical. There is of course the literal wall that the neighbour of the speaker feels is so important to maintaining good relations, and then there is the emotional barrier that is erected between them, which the wall stands as a symbol for. The attitude of the neighbour towards the wall is repeated, parrot-style, again and again in the poem, perhaps reflecting his complete uncritical faith in the value of a wall:

"Good fences make good neighbours."

However, the speaker finds this answer unsatisfying, as the act of mending the wall makes him think philosophically about some of the deeper implications of what he is doing:

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.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall...

Whilst for the neighbour a good barrier ensures a healthy relationship, for the speaker, there is the troubling thought of what offence might be caused by building that wall, given the inevitable way that you exclude and include others by the act of building a wall. However, the fact that the poem ends with the litany of the neighbour actually suggests that it is he who has the more enlightened and sensible view: given human nature, clear boundaries perhaps may be very important.

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