Purposes of Walls
1. What is the purpose of a wall?
a. Are walls meant to keep things in or keep things out? Which is more effective? Why?
2. Why do we build fences or walls?
3. What makes a good fence? List at least 4 qualities.
4. What makes a good neighbor? List at least 4 qualities. (Thoreau = doesn’t suffer the neighbors cows to avoid confrontation)
a. Which character is a good neighbor?
b. Are the characters friendly to each other?
5. List at least 4 "fences" people build in their minds and/or hearts.
6. Why do we build these "fences"?
7. Are these "fences" always good to have? Explain.
Responding to the Poem
8. How do the characters in the poem seem to feel about walls? (Provide evidence.)
a. Why does the narrator rebel against the wall? What does the narrator want?
b. Why does the neighbor support the wall? What does he want?
9. If the narrator does not believe in the need for the wall, why does he initiate its repairs each year?
10. What does the saying “Good fences make good neighbors” mean? Is it true?
a. Do the characters in the poem believe that “good fences make good neighbors”? (Provide evidence)
b. Do you? (Provide reasoning and examples.)
c. Which character is a good neighbor?
d. Which side does the poem seem to support best?
(“Good fences make good neighbors” or “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall”)
e. What would be Robert Frost’s purpose in remaining neutral or ambiguous on this debate?
11. Compare/Contrast the two characters.
12. Does the wall separate the two neighbors or bring them closer together? (Provide evidence.)
13. Other than the wall they are mending, what walls stand between the speaker and his neighbor?
14. What thematic issues does this poem explore? What does the poem seem to say about these issues?
15. In an allegory, every character and object represents something larger. What do the speaker and his neighbor
16. Robert Frost describes writing poetry as "an act of clarification" (source). What do you think he means by this,
and what do you think he clarifies in "Mending Wall?" Can you clarify this for us, please?
17. Robert Frost says, "People forget and poetry makes you remember what you didn't know you knew.” What does
“Mending Wall” remind you that you already know? What didn’t you know that you now know, you know?