American Literature Unit 4 Poetry

American Literature Unit 4 Poetry Notes, College and University Answer Bank for BA, and Post Graduate Notes and Guide Available here, American Literature Unit 4 Poetry Solutions to each Unit are provided in the list of UG-CBCS Central University & State University Syllabus eg. Dibrugarh University and Guwahati University so that you can easily browse through different College and University Guide and Notes here. American Literature Unit 4 Poetry Question Answer can be of great value to excel in the examination.

American Literature Unit 4 Poetry

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American Literature Unit 4 Poetry Notes cover all the exercise questions in UGC Syllabus. The American Literature Unit 4 Poetry provided here ensures a smooth and easy understanding of all the concepts. Understand the concepts behind every Unit and score well in the board exams.

Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” 

23. What are some of the metaphors used in Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: We keep the wall between us as we go. The central metaphor in this poem is the wall itself. It comes to represent the divisions between people, things that keep them apart. The speaker notes that he actually doesn’t see a need for the division; his neighbour has pine trees. and he himself has apple trees, so it isn’t like the wall is accomplishing a real function as it would if they both had cows, for instance When he asks his neighbour why they have to stand divided, his neighbour answers vaguely : “Good fences make good neighbours.” The Teaker can’t see the practicality in this statement. Therefore, the barriers we construct to divide us from other people are sometimes erected based on things we’ve heard before but have no practical application. 

He is all pine and I am apple orchard. 

The pines and apple trees are metaphors for their differences. Pine trees often symbolise longevity; he uses them as a metaphor here to explain how his neighbour carries the traditions of his father : “He will not go behind his father’s saying.” Because his father believed in this division, he will stand behind the belief. Apple trees often symbolise an appreciation of beauty and peace. The speaker longs to live in peace with his neighbour and therefore cannot see the necessity for the wall; they meet here every year with a common goal and have no ill will. The two men have different views of their world. 

Why do they make good neighbours ? Isn’t it 

Where there are cows ? But here there are no cows. 

The cows become metaphors for things that could divide them, differences that would create a division and would necessitate the construction of barriers. But the speaker can find no difference that he holds against his neighbour that makes a division necessary, and he can’t imagine that he’s done anything in return that would cause his neighbour to feel this way. 

24. What are the figures of speech used in the poem “Mending Walls” by Robert Frost? 

Ans: Other answers to this question have addressed assonance, alliteration, metaphor, personification, apos-trophe, and hyperbole, so to round out the answer and examine more subtle or less frequently noticed figures of speech in “Mending Wall,” let us consider the following techniques : 

When a poet inverts the syntax of a line it is called inversion, or anastrophe; it is often used to control metre, or to provide emphasis. Frost employs it in the opening line, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” instead of “there is something that doesn’t love a wall. 

Frost also employs the use of first person perspective as the speaker relates the narrative in real time, or present tense as the reader and the speaker experience the action of the poem together. 

Frost borrows a technique from rhetoric when he arranges two rhetorical questions back-to-back in the lines “Why do they make good neighbours ? Isn’t it where there are cows ?” 

Simile is used when the speaker imagines his neigh-bor “like an old-stone savage armed” building a stone wall. 

Finally, In his diction, Frost uses compound nouns such as “frozen ground-swell” and “old-stone-savage.” Compound nouns are nouns made up of two or more nouns, sometimes incorporating adjectives. 

25. In “The Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, what does the wall symbolise? 

Ans: One of the great things about poetry is that it is intended to evoke a response from the reader, but each reader need not have an identical response. Thus, when discussing what something in a poem may, or may not. symbolise, one should frame said discussion in terms of possibilities. 

With respect to Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” one possibility is that the wall symbolises a shared obligation. In the first two thirds of the poem, this is what the wall seems to symbolise to the speaker of the poem. The speaker does not see a practical purpose for the wall, nor, at first, does the speaker appreciate the neighbour’s assertion that good fences make good neighbours. The speaker feels obligated to mend the wall each year because the neighbour wishes to mend it. 

Another possibility is that the wall symbolises a needed separation between the neighbours. This appears to be what it symbolises to the neighbour. Like the speaker, the neighbour does not seem to believe that the wall has a practical use, such as keeping out livestock, but the neighbour does apparently see a need for the division of land to be marked, and for that marker to be mended each year. This fits with the maxim about good fences making good neighbours in that the wall provides a boundary and prevents disputes or misunderstandings about where one neighbour’s land ends and the other’s begins, thus reducing the chance of acrimony between the neighbours. 

A third possibility is that the wall symbolises the relationship between the neighbours themselves. From what the speaker tells us, the two do not seem to have much in common, and it appears that mending the wall may be the only activity they do together. In coming together to mend the wall, they also, in a sense, make sure their relationship as neighbours remains intact. Like the wall, that relationship has few practical consequences in their daily lives, but their yearly shared labour on the wall gives them a chance to interact and work together. In this way, the wall is making them good neighbours, not by keeping out livestock or demarcating their separate properties, but by them together in a common goal, thereby maintaining their relationship as neighbours. 

A reader of the poem may identify with one of these possibilities more than another, depending on that reader’s life experiences and world view, or a reader may identify with an interpretation of the reader’s own. Or, a reader may see all three possibilities, as well as perhaps other possibilities, working together to create layers of meaning. In such, each reader is having a response to the poem, and in some way understanding a deeper, symbolic meaning of the wall. 

26. What are the symbols that Frost presents in “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: The speaker tells us that his neighbour on the other side of the wall has a grove of pine trees while his own property contains an apple orchard. Pine trees are, of course. coniferous, and they do not shed their needles in the fall but keep them all year round. Apple trees are deciduous, and they shed their leaves in the fall, growing apple blossoms in the spring and then apples in the summer and early fall. Pine trees seem so serious and dour compared to the joyful burst of flowers put forth by apple trees, as though they are quite prim compared to the apple trees that grow flowers, then fruit, then lose their leaves, then do it all again. When the narrator says that “Spring is the mischief in [him]” a few lines later, it makes it seem as though the apple trees symbolise him, while the pine trees symbolise his neighbour. He doesn’t like the wall, as he says, multiple times, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, / That wants it down.” The apple trees lead a rather messy life compared to the pine trees. They shed leaves and flowers and fruit, and they live lives that seem full of excitement and change; just like their flowers and fruit burst forth from them, the narrator doesn’t mind change and resents the idea of confinement. Pine trees, on the other hand, don’t really change much and appear orderly and rather straightforward, by comparison; they seem so much like the neighbour who also seems serious and orderly and wants his boundary so meticulously maintained. 

27. What are the characters doing in Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: A couple of neighbours out in the country are going through the annual ritual of mending the wall that divides their land. Every spring, the two men walk the full length of the wall together and make any repairs that need to be made. In some parts of the wall, there are holes where hunters and their dogs have knocked over stones in pursuit of rabbits. 

Even so, one of the neighbours, the speaker of the poem, thinks the whole business is a complete waste of time. It’s not as if there are any cows to be contained; there are just apple trees and pines. 

But the speaker’s neighbour is insistent that the wall must be maintained every spring. He subscribes whole-heartedly to his father’s saying that good fences make good neighbours. The speaker tries valiantly to make him question the veracity of such an old saw, but his neighbour won’t budge. It seems that he’s lived his life by this principle and that he’s too old, too set in his ways, to change now. He’s stuck in the past, and so long as that’s the case, he’ll continue to insist that the speaker joins him in this annual wall-mending ritual. 

28. Describe the relationship between the narrator and his neighbour in Robert Frost’s poem “The Mending Wall.” 

Ans: The speaker of the poem thinks that the wall is somewhat unnatural, and he believes that there is “Some-thing… that doesn’t love a wall.” Nature, for example, makes the frozen ground swell up under the wall, knocking it down in places each year. The wall blocks the progress of hunters as they walk through the meadows. More gaps are made by something, but the speaker does not see what does it and only “find[s] [the gaps] there” when spring comes. He and his neighbour “meet to walk the line”—apparently they do not meet for any other purpose than this. They symbolically keep the wall between them as they go; there is a figurative “wall” between them as much as there is a literal wall. The wall is so unnatural and the stones so ill-fitted for stacking like this that the speaker feels they “have to use a spell to make them balance.” It is no easy task to keep rebuilding the wall. And yet, the speaker says, “we do not need the wall.” 

Near the end of the poem, the speaker describes the neighbour as carrying stones in each hand, “like an old-stone savage armed. / He moves in darkness as it seems to me….” The neighbour, however, just keeps repeating the old adage that “Good fences make good neighbours.” The relationship between the two men, then, is somewhat frosty. They do not agree, and the speaker is made to do work that he feels is unnecessary each time they go out to repair the wall. The neighbour seems to want very little to do with the speaker, and the speaker does not seem to subscribe to the notion that “Good fences make good neighbours.” He would rather, I think, actually have a rela-tionship with the neighbour than have a fence. And so their relationship is distant at best and antagonistic at worst. 

29. What is the main subject of the poem “Mend-ing Wall”? 

Ans: There are two basic ways to interpret the primary subject of”Mending Wall.” One is more literal, and the other is more conceptual or abstract. 

The first line of possible interpretation stays very close to the speaker’s words and the exact situation in which Robert Frost places them. In this interpretation, the poem is about neighbours. The two characters agree upon a date and mutually work to repair the wall between their properties. The speaker repeats, and does not contradict, the neighbour’s words: “Good fences make good neighbours.” 

A contrasting way to interpret the poem looks at the broader context of that sentiment as well as the speaker’s litial %surds. ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.” Ile use of something” is followed by the mention of numerous natural phenomena that can break it apart, suggesting that a wall is unnatural or goes against universal forces or ideas. Following this line of interpretation, we could infer that the speaker opposes the annual wall repair and disagrees with his neighbour : it would be better to allow the wall to fall or to remove it. By extension, the neighbours could improve their relationship through talking and negotiating their differences. 

Considered within a broader framework, these “neigh-bors” could be countries on opposite sides of an actual border or blocs of countries that have different political philosophies. 

The latter interpretation has been extended to United States-Soviet relations during the Cold War, with the “wall” understood as the Berlin Wall. 

30. What is the neighbour’s motto in “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost? 

Ans: In Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall,” the neighbour twice says, “Good fences make good neighbours.” In the poem, the speaker and the neighbour meet to repair the wall between their properties. The speaker wonders why they even need a wall; they have only trees on either side, and trees aren’t going to trespass onto each other’s property. 

The speaker mischievously considers questioning his neighbour and making him explain his statement, but ultimately they both just continue to repair the wall, and the neighbour repeats his statement: “Good fences make good neighbours.” 

As you might expect in poetry, the motto means more than the literal. The statement is about the figurative borders or boundaries we put up between ourselves and other people. In every relationship, we are most comfortable and happy when we know and abide by “fences” in the relationship. An easy illustration would be the relationship you have with brothers or sisters in your home. As long as they stay out of your room, don’t touch your belongings, and don’t bother you when you are busy, you can probably get along just fine. That is the “fence” or boundary that you need in order to get along. The “fences” or “walls” needed in each relationship are different, but most people would agree that “good fences make good neighbours.” 

31. What is irony in the poem “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: Perhaps the greatest irony in the poem “Mending Wall” is that the speaker continues to help rebuild the wall even as he realises he disagrees with its presence. As the poem progresses, the speaker notes how all sorts of natural forces, like the ground and animals, conspire to take down the wall each winter. However, he and his neighbour gather each spring to put it back together. On this particular rebuilding date, the speaker starts to internally question why the wall exists. He wonders why it is needed if he and his neighbour’s trees don’t interfere with each other’s property. He starts to even feel offended, thinking his neighbor is trying to box him out through this wall. Despite the speaker’s probably true fear, he and the neighbour meet and put the wall together, almost ritualistically. This is a social experience, though the neighbour’s insistence on keeping the wall suggests that he wants to isolate himself or separate his property from that of the speaker. This, of course, is another instance of irony in the poem because they join together to keep themselves apart.

When the speaker asks himself why the neighbour doesn’t consider what he is “walling out,” he implies that the neighbour is shutting down community and communication by requiring the rebuilding of the wall. The neighbour can only answer that “good fences make good neighbours,” and the imagery the speaker uses to describe the neighbour at the end of the poem strongly conveys the speaker’s attitude that the neighbour’s view is backward and pessimistic. At the end of the poem, though, there is no real reason to believe the two won’t meet again next spring and rebuild the wall all over again. 

32. In “Mending Wall,” how do hunters damage the wall? 

Ans: The narrator talks about all the various ways the wall between his property and his neighbor’s sustains damage : the season itself with its freezes and thaws, and the hunters who come through their land, chasing prey. Hunters damage the wall when they run after the rabbit they are hunting. Presumably the hunters are trying to move so quickly during their hunt that they do not slow down to mount and jump the wall carefully; instead, they either barrel through it or leap over it without care, knocking it down. The narrator says that these hunters do not leave a single stone on top of another, and so he has to make significant repairs to the wall every time they pass through. He never sees this happen, apparently, but he knows how it occurs. 

33. What are the contrasting views presented in the poem “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: The narrator and his neighbour have a disagreement about the importance of mending the wall between their properties. 

The narrator thinks that mending the wall every year is silly. They have no livestock to keep in, and his apples don’t threaten his neighbour’s pine forest. He also feels like something doesn’t like the wall, maybe like something in the world is taking it down on purpose, and that’s why, when their backs are turned, new cracks appear and the stacked rocks fall back out of place. 

The neighbour, on the other hand, stubbornly repeats his father’s wisdom: “good fences make good neighbours.” He is content to make the yearly trip along the property line in order to ensure that the wall can continue to exist, even if it will always come back down. 

34. Why does the poet say that there is something that does not love a wall in “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: In using this particular phrasing, the poet is presenting a speaker who objectifies their own interpretation of a situation. 

The line is memorable in part because of the combination of contradictory elements: the speaker makes an apparent statement of fact, establishes a Subject—”some-thing”— that is highly abstract, and personifies that ab-straction by endowing it with emotion—”love.” In addi-tion, the poet uses an unusual structure. Rather than say “something doesn’t love,” they add some words—”some-thing there is that doesn’t love”; this addition both helps make the abstraction concrete and creates a dissonance that causes the reader to pause in order to processes the odd wording. 

Using a negation in the first line also catches the reader’s attention. The impression that “something” could “love” is unusual enough, but we are prompted to wonder how the speaker has concluded that it does not love. The speaker also implies that that others, perhaps including the speaker, do love a wall, in contrast to that hostile something. The opening line sets the stage for the neighbour’s opinion that appears later in the poem. 

35. Characterise the speaker of the poem, The Mending Wall, by Robert Frost. 

Ans: The speaker of “Mending Wall” comes across as quite an ordinary, down to earth man, possessed with’ a great deal of good old-fashioned common sense. And it’s because of that common sense that he questions his neighbour’s insistence on mending the stone wall between them when there doesn’t seem to be any good reason for it. 

In practical terms, he completely accepts the necessity of mending certain parts of the wall after some inconsiderate hunters have caused them to collapse. But building a wall where it’s not needed strikes him as a complete waste of time, and the speaker lets his neighbour know this in no uncertain terms. 

However, the neighbour is insistent that good fences make good neighbours. And as the speaker seems to be the kind of man who likes a quiet life, he goes along with his neighbour’s idiosyncrasies. Besides, if he got too angry about the wall then he’d be inadvertently justifying the necessity of his neighbour’s mending the thing. Because then his neighbour would almost certainly use the speaker’s antagonism as an additional reason to maintain a good strong wall between them. 

36. What is one example of a simile in the poem “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: While there is only one simile in “Mending Wall”—in which the speaker says that his neighbour is “like an old-stone savage armed”–there are examples of metaphorical or other comparative language. One example of this is when the speaker refers to the activity he and his neighbour are engaged in as “just another kind of outdoor game.” The context in which the language is used suggests that the speaker sees the activity as senseless and without purpose, much the same as a child’s game would be. The neighbour, on the other hand, sees the activity as much more serious and necessary, backing his conviction up with the saying “Good fences make good neighbours.” 

The neighbour seems to believe that fences are important structures because they will solve potential arguments between neighbours before they happen and keep the peace. It’s an adult interpretation and could be considered common sense. However, the narrator tries to suggest that there is no logic to the argument : 

There where it is we do not need the wall : 

He is all pine and I am apple orchard. 

My apple trees will never get across 

And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. 

There is nothing that might cross the boundary set by the wall, so what is the purpose of having the wall ? The neighbour ignores the logic and clings to (and repeats) his saying, “Good fences make good neighbours.” In this discourse, the two men are engaged in a looping conversation very similar in tone to the way children might quarrel. 

37. How do hunters damage the wall in “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: The speaker of the poem describes the myriad reasons he has to come out and repair the stone wall between his own and his neighbour’s property, even though he does not actually like the wall or feel that it is necessary. He first describes the effects of the winter’s freezing and thawing, and then he says, 

The work of hunters is another thing: 

I have come after them and made repair 

Where they have left not one stone on a stone, 

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, 

To please the yelping dogs. (lines 5-9) 

It seems, then, that hunters come barreling through the property, running after their dogs (who are chasing after rabbits). They fail to exercise care for this reason, and the hunters end up disturbing the stones in the fence, knocking them over so that they are not stacked even two stones high in those spots. In the excitement of the chase, the hunters knock the stones down, and the speaker is forced to follow behind and repair the damage. 

38. Who initiates the mending of the wall? 

Ans: I am going to assume that this question is referring to the Robert Frost poem “Mending Wall.” 

The narrator of the poem is the person that initiates the mending of the wall. When the poem begins, the narmer is contemplating the fact that something exists that simply doesn’t want walls to exist. 

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 

The speaker then goes on to give two examples of “something” that repeatedly destroys his wall. The first thing is the weather. Alternating freezes and thaws eventually put large gaps in the wall. The second thing is hunters that tear apart the wall, so their dogs can hunt the rabbits. 

Where they have left not one stone on a stone, 

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding, 

To please the yelping dogs. 

The narrator then brings his reader back to the.task at hand. He is mending the wall; however, the poem says “we.” This lets readers know that the poem’s speaker is not the only person present at the wall. 

The gaps I mean, 

No one has seen them made or heard them made, 

But at spring mending-time we find them there. 

The other person is the narrator’s neighbour, and the narrator states that he let his neighbour know about the wall needing to be repaired. The two men meet on a predetermined date and each work on their own side of the wall to mend its broken sections. 

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill; 

And on a day we meet to walk the line 

And set the wall between us once again. 

39. In Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” what do the wall and the two farmers represent? 

Ans: In Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” first published in 1914, the farmers represent individuals, groups, societies, or anything subject to a division or boundary. The wall represents those boundaries themselves. 

In the poem, two farmers meet to repair a wall that runs along the border of their properties. One farmer, the persona, reflects on how hunters, animals, and nature itself incessantly bring down the wall, and wonders if the wall is needed at all. When the persona asks his neighbour about this latter notion, he only replies, “good fences make good neighbours” (26). The poem then challenges the notion that boundaries are necessary. The crucial, contradictory lines, “Something there is that doesn’t want a wall” and “good fences make good neighbours” are both repeated twice (1, 26, 34,44). The persona reflects on how nature itself seems to disapprove of the wall by dismantling it through exposure and erosion. He then concedes that the wall does in a way bring him and his neighbour together; repairing the wall becomes a kind of “outdoor game” (21). He surmises that perhaps walls, or boundaries, are required in some situations, such as those in which “there are cows” (30). However, his wall only separates two orchards. The ironic final lines reveal that the neighbour’s only motivation for repairing the wall is tradition: “He will not go behind his father’s saying / And he likes having thought of it so well.” He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors” (42-44). He simply repeats his father’s mantra; he will not “go behind it” or critically evaluate the truthfulness of his father’s claim. The wall itself then represents the separations or divisions we encounter in our own life, and the farmers, those subject to these divisions. 

40. Can you give me criticism about this poem “Mending Wall” which was written by Frost? 

Ans: Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” is about two different outlooks on life and relationships. The neighbours, one of whom is the speaker, meet each spring to mend the stone wall between their properties. The speaker wonders about why this ritual exists, since there is nothing that either of them has that could stray onto the other’s land. There is no livestock on one side that could damage the other’s property. The speaker remarks only that “He is all pine and I am apple orchard.” The neighbour, however, never questions the need for the fence. He has learned from his father that “Good fences make good neighbours.” 

The poem is a commentary on the artificial constructs that people build between themselves and the rest of the world. Even neighbours, those with whom we should be most comfortable and friendly, set themselves apart from one another. Though he has heard the neighbour’s claim about good fences and good neighbours, the speaker doubts the truth of that sentiment. In lines 32-36 the speaker reveals his thoughts about fence building : 

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know 

What I was walling in or walling out, 

And to whom I was like to give offence. 

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 

That wants it down.” 

These lines clearly show that the speaker believes that something, likely nature itself, “wants [the fence] down, that fences are unnatural. Note how the speaker wonders about how walling in or out could “give offence.” This pun is important. The word “offence” when spoken sounds almost exactly like the phrase “a fence.” The speaker would think long and hard before intentionally creating either. 

Yet, despite his reservations, he helps construct this wall between himself and his neighbour each spring. This act shows that even the speaker, who doesn’t like offend-ing fences, still is to blame, at least in part, for the division between him and his neighbour. 

The last five lines of the poem show how the speakers share in building the wall has affected his view of his 

Neighbour : 

He moves in darkness as it seems to me, 

Not of woods only and the shade of trees. 

He will not go behind his father’s saying, 

And he likes having thought of it so well 

He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.” 

The neighbors repeated comment shows that these attitudes are learned, not natural. This social construct was built by his father, and he will keep the barrier in place. The speaker sees his neighbour as one who ”moves in darkness.” Darkness metaphorically can mean either lack of understanding or even something sinister. Either way the speaker means it, he is judging his neighbour. Either the neighbour is less wise or enlightened or he his more bound, by tradition or coldness, or both. Regardless of how the speaker means this thought, the very act of helping to mend the wall has affected him. He unwittingly becomes a part of the problem. His hesitancy to speak helps to build the fence, and the offence.

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