The Speaker and the Neighbor in Mending Wall by Robert Frost

Robert Lee Frost was born on 26th March 1874 in San Francisco, California. The American poet was praised for his depictions of rural life, and his realistic verse portraying ordinary people in everyday situations (Gerber, 2019). He was an ordinary man who loves nature and uses simple words in his work. One among his famous poems was ‘Mending the wall’. It opens Frost’s second collection of poetry, North of Boston, published in 1914 (Wikipedia). In this poem, he has explored the reason why people create boundaries around them.

“Personal boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves as individuals in relationships” (Hecker. n.d). This essay focuses on the encounter between the speaker and the neighbor regarding the boundaries set in human life.

The neighbor expresses the view that good fences make good neighbours (Frost, 1914). He believed that setting clear boundaries between neighbors ensures a healthy relationship between them, and assures that the relationships are mutually respected. Thus he insisted on building a physical barrier referred to as ‘wall’ between them.

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This wall is created in harmony between the neighbors to protect and respect each other’s privacy. And if one feels that the boundaries are loose; they leads to emotions then it is the time to reset the limits. The resenting of boundaries is considered as the time for mending wall. This is a tradition followed from his father since many years. The neighbour does not want to clarify the reason for his attitude, and says that he took up his father’s attitude.

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Moreover boundaries are a measure of self-esteem; an indicator showing that one deserved to be treated well. They set the limits for acceptable behaviour from those around him/her, determining whether they feel able to put one down, or take advantage of one’s good nature (Collingwood, 2018). At the same time having healthy boundaries does not mean that rigidly saying no to everything. Nor does it mean cocooning oneself from others.

In addition boundaries help not to compromise one’s value for other people. If a person compromise his/her values it can lead to frustration and finally ruins the relationship. To set boundaries one should know his/her values, believes morals and should be true to one. If not it may set a loose or rigid boundaries. Besides keeping other people from coming into one’s space it also keep one from going into the space of others and abusing them. And these imaginary lines move up and down based on our circumstances.

On the other hand the speaker feels that rigid boundaries can lead to chronic loneliness. He presents this activity as insignificant. He is a person who wants to have a close relationship with others. In his point of view the wall is unnecessary as he is not going to exploit his neighbor. He doubts the activity of his neighbor of constructing a barrier as the apple trees and pine trees neither will get confused nor will eat the fruits of each other. The speaker felt that his neighbor is an uncivilized man who takes over the path of his father without knowing it. He considered him as a man of old age with his stone weapons, who is still in darkness. In the authors view the wall does not maintain a good relationship but only keeps the neighbor away from him. In a like manner the boundaries keep people away from one.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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The Speaker and the Neighbor in Mending Wall by Robert Frost. (2024, Feb 08). Retrieved from

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