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Analysis Of The Poem A Weak Wall

1118 words - 4 pages

Robert Frost is perhaps one of the most well-known and influential American poets to date. He is often recognized for questioning life’s meaning and purpose while using natural images to illustrate his ideas. In Frost’s poem, Mending Wall, segregation is the topic of discussion with a commentary on people’s need to be separate when there is no gain. In order to appreciate the stance that Frost takes, it is important to understand the definition of a wall; its purpose and therefore role in generating and perpetuating the idea of the isolation of people from each other. Frost’s conversation within the poem makes it clear that there is no reason for the wall’s existence. He also creates many problems for the wall that demonstrate how even nature itself wishes the wall to be removed.
One dictionary definition of a wall is that it is the outermost layer of structural material protecting, surrounding, and defining the physical limits of an object. While a wall can be used for defense or as a shield against outside dangers, it can also be used as a prison by keeping people caged in. As a definition of limits, it naturally separates in and out, or in the case of the poem, this man and that man. A wall can also be defined as an intangible barrier; an obstruction of melding ideas. While Frost’s wall is a physical one with its “boulders that have fallen to each.” (871), it is also a wall that metaphorically separates. When the narrator’s neighbor grabs a stone in each hand, he becomes, “like an old-stone savage armed.” (872). The narrator no longer sees him as a peer but as someone savage, removed from the civilized nature one expects of a person. Whether they are physical or metaphorical, these walls can last for centuries or only a season depending on how they are made.
This particular wall of Frost’s has many problems that keep it from being a steady and permanent one. It has one major enemy that “sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, and spills the upper boulders in the sun; and makes gaps even two can pass abreast.” (870). Using a tactic like freezing the ground and creating cracks, this enemy proves to be none other than nature itself. By having nature attempt to bring down the wall, Frost is suggesting that walls used to separate are, in fact, unnatural. The hunters present another problem as they dig to get to the rabbits that have chosen the wall as their hiding place. It is as if nature, realizing it needed more help, uses the animals to get humans to tear their own wall down. The stones themselves were neither cut no placed in a way that would have been conducive to a lengthy lifespan of the wall. The boulders were shaped like “loaves and some so nearly balls...” (871), and the neighbors had such a hard time placing them that they had to “use a spell to make them balance.” (871). It is interesting that after all of these years of the boulders falling because of the impracticality of their shape, not one person ever suggested...

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