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Free Example of Robert Frost's 'Mending Wall' Essay

The story, A Rose for Emily, by Robert Frost, and the poem, Mending Wall, by Robert Frost have similar themes. The similar themes highlighted in both literacy works are tradition and isolation. Each work gives either the benefits or the problems of isolation. Both of them show the boundary between modernity and isolation.

Tradition versus Change. In the Mending Wall, two neighbors meet yearly to do repairs on a stone wall separating their property. The narrator of the poem is skeptical of this repetitive tradition and fails to understand the significance of the wall when there is no livestock to contain within the property, just apple and pine trees. To a lyrical hero, this traditional wall should not exist for the mere sake of existing. The neighbor replies by saying: “Good fences make good neighbors” (Frost 27). Despite the narrator’s persistence that the neighbor stops such old-fashioned thinking, the neighbor refuses to sway on the tradition. To the persona, the neighbor is a living example of Stone Age mentality; making the reader to think of a caveman or Neanderthal man: “. . . I see him there / Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top / In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed” (Frost 39-41).

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In the short story, A Rose for Emily, Faulkner highlights the struggle that arises when one tries to keep traditions in the face of radical and widespread change. Jefferson is a confused character, trying to adopt a commercial and more modern future while standing on the end of the bleak past, from the town cemetery where war heroes lay to the fading glory of the Grierson home: “Already we knew that there was one room in that region above stairs which no one had seen in forty years, and which would have to be forced” (Faulkner 2.13).

Emily, on the other hand, is wholly traditional, choosing to stay the same despite a myriad of changes in her community. She is a living testament to the past, representing traditions that people desire to honor and respect. However, she is completely cut off from the world and a burden; she is living in the vacuum, in a world of her own. From the quote below, the author describes the main character as an object that passes on from generation to generation. “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town . . .” (Faulkner 13). The literary heroine refuses to have metallic numbers on her house when modern mail arrives in her town. Emily is completely out of touch with modern day reality that threatens to break her barriers.

The young are trying to break away from the old generation. Though Jefferson has high regard of traditional norms of reputation and honor, the narrator is highly critical of the old men who come for Emily’s funeral in their confederate uniforms. The past is an ever present realm of this society; the past is never past, and never dead. The story spins forwards and backwards in time showing a town torn between past and present.

Isolation. A Rose for Emily is a story depicting the extremes of both physical and emotional isolation. Faulkner highlights how the past, the community, the family, and the law can isolate human beings. A person’s own life choices can also isolate him or her from the rest of the community. The story takes a stern stand against the instance of isolation, and against those individuals who isolate others. The following quote at the beginning of the story shows the divide between Emily and the town:“. . . the women mostly out of curiosity to see the inside of her house, which no one save an old man-servant – a combined gardener and cook – had seen in at least ten years” (Faulkner 1.1).

Only two people have seen the inside of Emily’s house, showing how the whole town had isolated her. After her father's death, she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all (Faulkner 9). This is further evidence of her isolation, first by her father, and secondly by the disappearance of her lover.

None of the young men was quite good enough for Miss Emily and such (Faulkner 11).

This is another isolation evidence that Emily went through because of her father. The heroine’s father saw no fit man for her, contributing to her withdrawal from the world.

In the Mending Wall, the mere existence of the wall between the property of the narrator and his neighbor, gives them the chance to forge a quality relationship. The existence of the wall enables them to maintain a sense of personal identity and individuality as farmers.  One is a pine tree farmer while the other is an apple tree farmer. In addition, the annual meeting of the two to mend the wall gives the two men a chance to interact and socialize with one another – something that could not occur in an isolated environment. Their meeting to repair the wall allows them to forge their relationship far more if they decided to remain isolated in their separate properties.


While the Mending Wall gives the benefits of not living in isolation, A Rose for Emily highlights the difficulties and problems that arise due to living in isolation. Both of these literacy works show how it is difficult to break from our traditions as highlighted by Emily and the neighbor.

Code: writers15

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