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Mending Wall Analysis

I find myself struggling to decide if the author of the “Mending Wall” is unreliable or somewhere in the middle between reliable.  I feel a tugging in the direction of unreliable as the author seems not to know all the relevant information to consistently interpret the events accurately.

The author conflicts with what he says and what he lacks to do or doesn’t do in that he is constantly questioning the purpose of the wall in his particular case and the necessity of it, but he does nothing to remove the wall or to discuss the need of the wall to his neighbor. This leaves me to interpret that the speaker is trying to express his ideas about barriers between people and the feeling or sense of security that walls can give, and that the wall in the poem is symbolic of the barriers people erect in relationships.

An odd observation in this poem I noticed is that the author is speaking to the stones “stay where you are until our backs are turned!” it seems that the man may be so bored not having anyone to speak with that he would talk to anything. The only thing in the poem the neighbors says is “Good fences make good neighbors” so maybe the neighbor isn’t much of a conversationalist and maybe the author has only the wall to converse with which would make the wall really a better neighbor than the actual neighbor.

It is amusing that the author referrers to his neighbor as an “old stone savage,” but, I believe the author means his neighbor is single mindedly focused on the wall and the idea of maintaining its existence will somehow make good relations with his neighbors. The one sided fixation approach to the maintenance of the wall by his neighbor is what prompted the author to call him an “old stone savage,” that won’t go against his father’s advice.


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