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Marxism and Socialism in “Mending Walls” Poem by Robert Frost


The poem “Mending Walls” by Robert Frost, written and published in 1914, narrates a story originating from rural New England and talks about a fence between two industrious farmers’ estates that separates their properties. It is worth noting that the wall is rebuilt every spring, and one of the farmers is the poet himself. Frost’s ambivalence about the wall addresses political geography in building physical barriers, which can present human restrictions and benefits in society by indicating how long-term relations between people can be conserved through good fences (Copland and Peat 11). In the poem, the wall is broken, and there is talk of rebuilding it, which symbolizes communism and socialism, as the farmers have to collaborate and contribute towards the wall’s reconstruction.

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The Marxist and Social Criticism Analysis

The poet and his neighbor are known to be hardworking people. The Marxist and socialist criticism is demonstrated when the poet and his diligent neighbor set a date to reconstruct the broken wall. One major issue is that the poet does not entirely approve of the border but collaborates to preserve it (Copland and Peat 10). The speaker writes that he has an “apple orchid,” while the other side has “all pine” to show that they grow different plants (Frost, line 24). The poet is arguably right in seeing it as a barrier, and he even questions its importance since there is almost nothing of much value that can be stolen.

During the wall’s construction, the speaker and his neighbor discuss and exchange ideas concerning the boundary. The former suggests that the frozen ground below could be a reason for breaking the barrier and rejects the idea of the wall being damaged by hunters since he usually goes after them and makes repairs to the places where the stones have been removed (Frost, line 6). The farmers eventually conclude that an unseen thing damages the wall portraying the social understanding between them. They can get along well and solve disputes quickly by talking to each other.

The poet does not see the importance of the border and makes this known to his compatriot, who says, “Good fences make good neighbors” (Copland and Peat 12). The division has been used to symbolize the barriers that are necessary to promote good relationships between individuals. The wall’s construction is essential as it guarantees a healthy relationship, as the two neighbors can know their boundaries and limits and avoid invading each other’s personal space. Therefore, an atmosphere of peace is achieved as they know their restrictions.

From the poem’s context, it is clear that they both have an equal say on matters concerning the fence separating their farms. Chaos would indeed have risen if the farmers had not understood each other. The poet loathes the idea of building the wall and even tries to convince his counterpart that the fence is of no significance and is a burden. He says that they have to set aside a day every spring to come and do some construction and maintenance on the wall despite there not being any threat to their crops. On the other hand, the neighbor is portrayed as a peace-loving man who is unbelievably calm and is not quick to make rash decisions. He values the relationship he has developed over the years with his counterpart and advises him to continue with the wall’s construction.

Building on the wall brings together the two farmers who interact with each other displaying the social aspect of life. In the final parts of the poem, the poet advocates that his neighbor is irrational and is associated with darkness in some weird way, to which the latter replies, “Good fences make good neighbors.” (Copland and Peat 12). The poet seems to be making fun of his neighbor as he makes the wall, but ironically, he always turns up to take part in rebuilding and is keen to rectify the damages done by hunters on the wall as they seek prey (Hoffman 6). He appears to be criticizing his neighbor’s work, but this is not the case since he enjoys the process, though he does not speak aloud about it. Socialism criticism is evident throughout the poem even as the narrator questions the wall’s existence and the necessity of rebuilding it, and its relevance to the present life is very apparent.


Various aspects of this poem can be applied in our social lives today as social criticism is considered an individual struggle. In the 21st century, people are more educated and technologically advanced than during the early 1910s when this poem was written. Robert Frost foreshadowed a lot of things that have happened in recent times. Frost’s words significantly impact today’s life even after his demise. For example, political leaders and others often refer to walls in describing barriers on issues that need collective agreement and collaboration. The poem itself pinpoints crucial issues in society and brings them to light for discussion. There is a relaxed feeling when reading the poem due to the amount of diction added to it. Therefore, it is paramount to emulate the poet and his neighbor’s behavior in today’s society so that it would be possible to continue living harmoniously in peace and love.

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Works Cited

Copland, Sarah, and Alexandra Peat. “Mending Walls and Making Neighbors: Spatial Metaphors in the New Modernist Studies.” Intervalla, vol. 4, 2016, pp. 1–29. Web.

Frost, Robert. “Mending Wall.” Gleeditions, 2011. Web.

Hoffman, Tyler. “Robert Frost.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, Oxford UP, 2017.

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