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Mending Wall

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FRANKLIN
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I thought this poem by Robert Frost was very interesting for many reasons. The structure of this poem was cool and pretty intriguing. It was almost as if the speaker and the neighbor were going back and forth in conversation. Therefore, they were both telling the story, instead of just the speaker. 

I think a main component of the poem was the idea of building barriers between each other. Furthermore, it seems that we are so quick to establish separation. I wonder why we are so territorial?! 


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bunkymoo
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I also enjoyed this poem a lot. After re-reading it a bunch of times, I was able to grasp a good meaning from it and understand it very well. I think the reason that they were so quick to establish separation was that the separation was formed in past generations. In line 43, the narrator says "He will not go behind his fathers saying". This makes me think there might have been conflict between the father of the neighbor, and whoever lived in the house before the narrator.


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TheBoulder
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I think the poem was also really interesting, and as I went over it I found more meaning in the piece. It was definitely about barriers, and the whole fathers thing suggested that it was rooted in tradition. I think this logic could be applied to different concepts, but it makes me think of ignorance and how ignorant people accept facts that have been told to them without question. The difference between the two characters is also voiced by the idea that the neighbor seems to be telling all his opinions, while the speaker keeps their opinion to themselves. Perhaps because we see the experience through the speaker's perspective we only see their thoughts, but again it was probably purposeful. I think this encourages the ideas of searching for meaning and questioning things, while the neighbor doesn't do the same.


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xwing37
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@bunkymoo, I also was curious about how the speaker brought the neighbor's father into the poem. I almost feel as if the father had a strict rule about how neighbors should interact. So I think the neighbor grew up his entire life hearing the quote, "good fences make good neighbors". This shows the biased views of the neighbor because one side of a problem was always talked about while the other side was disregarded. So the neighbor is very close-minded on the idea of not having a fence in between his property and the speaker's.


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wildsalmon
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The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the pointlessness of it all. The speaker says it, clear as day:

My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
The wall doesn't do anything besides separate for separation's sake. But since the wall is between both men's land, they both have to want the wall to be gone for anything to happen. You could probably take this as a metaphor for their relationship, how if they want the metaphorical barrier in their relationship to go down, they both have to want it.
 
Going back to that idea of structure as well, I enjoyed the characterization that happened through the dialogue, however limited it may be. The neighbor only repeats the same phrase, really setting his image as hard and rigid, while the speaker uses phrases like "I wonder if" and "I could" that make him feel very mischievous yet not so sure of himself that he'd brute force the issue of the wall.

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SnowyYeti
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@xwing37  I agree with you and I think that an important part you should mention is why the narrator mentions the neighbors dad.  Like @theboulder mentions, it symbolizes tradition and I think that this was part of the narrators purpose. He wanted to show that just because something is tradition does not make it logical and he shows this when in the middle of the poem he mentions the reason to have fences.  They are for cows and there are no cows.  He tries to show the neighbor that just because fixing the fence is a tradition does not mean it is needed.


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savhoisington
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@bunkymoo On the thought of "behind his father's saying" I think that is interesting. I think that that is very possible that the father had conflict with a neighbor. To add on, whether the father did or didn't, this was very valuable in what i think the focus of the piece was. I think that the author was really trying to show the extent to which we hold onto comfort/ the norm, whether that is the tendency for humans to remain so closed off or hug to tradition. So this was very telling that the neighbor was doing both because it was comfortable, even if unnecessary.


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aplitstudent123
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@snowyyeti I agree that the mentioning of the neighbor's father was to show that the neighbor greatly valued tradition and therefore wanted a fence because that is traditionally what stood between houses. Yet, the narrator pushed back on this idea saying that fences are to keep cows and that they don't have cows, so there was no reason to have a fence. The narrator questions the neighbor for not considering how the narrator feels when he insists on having a fence. I think this poem shows the many changes in points of view we see in our lives nowadays. People have become much more open, without the need of a wall to separate them from others. However, there are still traditionalists who value the separation from others just as life has been in history.


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savhoisington
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@salmon I too enjoyed the clever characterization of the two neighbors. My favorite was the quote that you used on the apple trees eating the pinecones. These two lines alone had so much effect on the way I saw each character. First, just the simple fact that the narrator had apple trees when the neighbor had pine trees is enough contrast for me to picture a line where the fence is being put up where one side is sunny and colorful and the other is dark, gloomy, and mysterious. Also, the narrator's 'mischievous' tone as you put it really comes out in this statement. It is silly to imagine a tree running by a fence and eating a pinecone, so when the neighbor only responds with a blunt "good fences make good neighbors" it shows how un-open to new friends he is. To respond to something humorous with a blunt response shows the figurative wall he put up before even rebuilding the fence.


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klynnph
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I'm not gonna lie, with poetry it's hard for me to grasp the meaning behind it within the first few reads. Even after reading it thoroughly three or four times, I still often feel like I don't feel like I'm fully understanding what a poem means. 

Although with this one, I feel like I got a good understanding of it after two or three reads. The neighbors don't seem to hate each other or anything (which was my initial thought when first reading the poem). It seems to me that although the speaker desperately wanted the fence to be taken down so he could build his relationship with his neighbor, he understood that helping patch the fence showed his neighbor that he valued his neighbor's privacy. I felt that the speaker understood his neighbor's values. I also think that the speaker could possibly be helping repair the fence because maybe that was the only time that they talked, so he wanted to build some connection or sense of community. 


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xwing37
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@snowyyeti, this is true, I think he did this to show how some people are afraid to change. If this has been a family tradition for years then I'm assuming the neighbor is afraid to break that. So while the idea of having a wall when they have no cattle may seem outrageous to the speaker, it's all the neighbor knows. This could also show close-mindedness. The neighbor might not have a open mind to new ideas. The reason I bring this up is because when the speaker asks him about it he just responds with five words and gives no logical reasoning to why he wants the wall there. I think this poem is supposed to symbolize open and close-minded people.


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aplitstudent123
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@savhoisington I like how you said that not only does a physical fence/wall stand between these two men's houses, but there is also a figurative wall that the neighbor has put up by pushing the speaker away. When reading, I didn't consider that the wall itself could be more than just the barrier between the two men. I think thinking about the neighbor as having this mental barrier from change and making friends in a new way is a really interesting and powerful way to think about him. And, just like you said, he always repeats the same line which shows that the mental wall the neighbor has won't come down just like the fence also won't that stands between these two character's houses.


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Persephone
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I think that the neighbor isn't territorial per se, but hes following what was set out for him by his father, which isn't the best idea. The main concept of this poem is willingness (or unwillingness) to change, we can see that the narrator wants to change and get rid of the wall completely, because he doesn't even know "what he is walling in or walling out." This is to say that the neighbor is blindly following a tradition set by his father, and ignoring what good could come out of regular interaction with the narrator, and without the wall.


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xwing37
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@persephone, I agree with you, I feel as if the neighbor is stuck in his father's traditions and is afraid to go against them. I don't believe that he is territorial either, I have feeling somewhere deep inside of him he doesn't want the wall either. I think the quote that he brings up that "good fences make good neighbors" rings through his head. He mostly likely has grown up hearing this quote and only hearing his father's viewpoint on having a wall between properties. I believe that the reason the neighbor keeps the wall is a mixture of close-mindedness and being naive. He probably doesn't even know any better since he grew up with his father like this, so he's just carrying on the tradition. 


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Anonymous Parrot
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@klynnph SAME. I struggle with trying to find the meaning in poetry and have no idea if I got it right (spark notes is so tempting am I right?). I think this poem is rooted more in the human condition of tradition and values simply because of that father line. There is no reason for a fence so the question still remains as to why it is still up. I think maybe the poem is to underscore how humans can become so rooted in tradition and accepting what authority says by showing us the neighbor's stubbornness on keeping up the fence. This idea of tradition has always been the justification for many things throughout history and Frost is trying to point out that it is a poor justification for such actions and that we should be pushed to use reason in solving our conflicts with one another. 


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