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.

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American Literature Unit 4 Poetry

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.

41. What are some of meanings of the Wall in “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost? 

Ans: Well done for identifying the deliberate ambiguity of the central image of the wall. Of course, this ambiguity is created in part thanks to the other word of the title, “mending,” which is used as both a verb and an adjective in the poem, so we are never too sure how this central image is to be read. However, it is suggested that the act of mending the wall is one that is used to help maintain the relationship between the speaker and his neighbour. Of course, the wall refers to two kinds of barriers that we erect in our lives, both emotional and physical. There is of course the literal wall that the neighbour of the speaker feels is so important to maintaining good relations, and then there is the emotional barrier that is erected between them, which the wall stands as a symbol for. The attitude of the neighbour towards the wall is repeated, parrot-style, again and again in the poem, perhaps reflecting his complete uncritical faith in the value of a wall : 

“Good fences make good neighbours.” 

However, the speaker finds this answer unsatisfying, as the act of mending the wall makes him think philosophically about some of the deeper implications of what he is doing : 

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… 

Whilst for the neighbour a good barrier ensures a healthy relationship, for the speaker, there is the troubling thought of what offence might be caused by building that wall, given the inevitable way that you exclude and include others by the act of building a wall. However, the fact that the poem ends with the litany of the neighbour actually suggests that it is he who has the more enlightened and sensible view: given human nature, clear boundaries perhaps may be very important. 

42. “The poem “Mending Wall”, by Robert Frost deals with human barriers.” Do you agree? 

Ans: Definitely. I think you need to be aware of the way that Frost presents the ambiguity over the wall. The speaker is very open about his distaste for walls, saying that he doesn’t love them and he presents the wall in a way that seems to emphasise the way that it divides people. Note the following example : 

And on a day we meet to walk the line 

And set the wall between us once again. 

We keep the wall between us as we go. 

Note how the wall is what separates the speaker from his neighbour and prevents them from being together. Even when the speaker feels that they do not need a wall as their territory is clearly marked by the different trees, the neighbour presents his opposing argument : 

“Good fences make good neighbours.” 

However, this leads the speaker to make a series of very thoughtful and pertinent questions and statements, such as this : 

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. 

This quote above all cements the way in which this poem is about human divisions. Building any form of wall means that you are implicitly walling in some people and walling out others, thereby causing offence. Frost therefore symbolically writes about how we built walls, real or metaphorical, that may give us a sense of security but also separate us and prevent communication and true togetherness. 

43. What does the speaker meet the neighbor to do ? 

Ans: The speaker meets with his neighbour every spring to repair the stone wall on the border between their two properties. Every winter, the wall is damaged and has holes and gaps that need to be fixed. 

The speaker thinks that it is unnecessary to repair the wall. He notes that neither he nor his neighbour have livestock. Therefore, neither one of them needs to worry about livestock wandering over the property line and destroying the trees and/or orchards they cultivate. 

The neighbour, however, is insistent that they continue the wall-mending ritual. He was taught by his father that good fences make good neighbours and, therefore, that is a tradition he honours. He doesn’t care that there is little practical use in the ritual. 

The poem illustrates two different world views. The speaker is progressive and would gladly embrace the change of letting the wall they don’t need fall down. The neighbour is conservative and traditional and wants to keep the wall intact—whether it is needed or not. The speaker, kihe end. gives in to the neighbour’s desire for continuity tradition. 

44. In “Mending Wall,” what connotative language and images does Robert Frost use? 

Ans: When examining connotative language in any poem, it is essential to delve into the use of language as trying to convey something beyond dictionary meaning. Connotative language enables the poet to use language as a portal of relevance and purpose. In this light, the words identified for their connotative element and the images that Frost employs in the poem are meant to explore the thematic conditions in the poem. 

One example of connotative language is seen in the very title. “Mending” is connotative because of how it functions in the poem. On one hand, it can be seen as representative of the repairing of the wall. It is the annual ritual in which the neighbours participate. They fix the wall that has been damaged, and repair the gaps that have formed as a result of the natural and human constructed conditions that surround the wall. The use of “mending” speaks to the actual repair, the work in which both men speak to the rocks that form the wall : “Stay where you are until our backs are turned!” When we delve into the word, it reflects something like sewing, as in to mend a dress. The notion of sewing something up can mean closing it off, no longer allowing space to present itself. Such a connotation connects to the refrain of “Good fences make good neighbours” where the mending of the wall closes up any possibility of connect between both men. 

The image of the wall itself becomes a dominant element in the poem. It represents a boundary, a line that cannot be crossed. Frost is skilled enough to understand how boundaries are an intrinsic part of the human condition. Boundaries come to define an individual through external marking of a line or point that cannot be crossed, only approached. The image of the wall represents this in the poem. It is a boundary that marks out the potential for human endeavour and, in this case, human contact. This is seen in the question posed about walls, in general: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know/ What I was walling in or walling out.” The wall is symbolic of how some boundaries cannot be overcome and that one’s mode of being in the world is heavily influenced by the boundaries that exist in it. 

In describing how the neighbor moves in his placement of the stones, Frost suggests that he moves in “darkness.” The use of “darkness” contains layers of connotative meaning. “Darkness” can reflect the lack of clarity about the motive regarding the fence, the external boundary. The “darkness’ of not being certain is evident in this use. It can also represent a form of closing off, as in the more gaps that are filled, the darkness the wall presents as a looming figure. The “darkness” could also represent the neighbour’s state of mind, close off from thinking any other way outside of “Good fences make good neighbours.’ k is a form of darkness meant to keep the speaker Iliac dark as to his neighbour’s life and consciousness. In keeping consistent with the idea of wondering what one was ‘walling in or walling out,” the darkness could represent a type of force that is being kept in or kept out by the wall. The “something” that opens the poem is contrasted with the “darkness” at its conclusion. The connotative image of darkness towards the conclusion of the poem helps to “illuminate” a different aspect of the ritual, the wall, and the boundaries it demarcates. 

Finally, the word “neighbour” is significant to the poem. It represents the wall’s purpose, as well as the critical element in the father’s maxim. The neighbour could simply be the person who lives on the other side. Yet, it could also come to represent the forces that exist outside of ourselves. Frost is posing the fundamental question of how we appropriate boundaries and the impact this has on the people who exist on the other side of them, our “neighbours.” What individuals do in facing the boundaries in their own lives and whether or not these objects that demarcate end up making “good neighbours” is a critical question to ask. The traditional notion of a neighbour is one who does not really adhere to boundaries. When examining the standard use of “neighbour,” one is confronted with the exact opposite of isolation, separation, and distance. Yet, the use of the term in light of boundaries is of vital importance to the maxim that helps to shape the poem. It helps to maintain the civility between people who are different and opposites to one another. The reader is left to question how boundaries might actually save and preserve the “neighbour” relationship, in the process reconfiguring how one sees the “neighbour” as both image and verbal pattern of recognition. 

45. Why is the title of Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” ambiguous? 

Ans: As another reviewer said, you could look at “mending” either as an action being performed by the speaker and the neighbour or as modifying the type of wall they are working on together. The title is also ambiguous because the wall itself is an ambiguous symbol, and the speaker has mixed feelings toward it. 

The speaker begins by describing how he and his neighbour, whose properties are separated by the wall, get together each spring to mend the wall after the damage it suffers each winter. The speaker is immediately hesitant, though, as he begins, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” (line 1). He goes on to explain that “the frozen ground-swell,” “hunters,” and “the rabbit” all work to topple the wall. This is why the wall needs to be repaired each spring. The speaker begins to wonder—if all of nature is working against the wall, then why should humans keep up this useless process of repair ? 

The answer. of course, is that the neighbour believes in the necessity of the wall. He is the one who repeats the famous adage “Good fences make good neighbours,”‘ while the Teakter wonders why. The ambiguity of the title could reflect the speaker’s ambivalence toward the wall. On the c bald. he wants to keep peace with his neighbour; but as the other hand, he feels offended that the neighbour the need to “wall [him] out.” While the neighbours are mending a wall,” they may actually be dismantling their relationship or the civility between them. In this sense, the title can also be considered ironic. 

46. Why does the poet consider the spring season mischievous in “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: The poem is about two neighbours who have a wall between their land. They have an agreement to meet once a year and maintain the wall, fixing any gaps that have developed in it over the course of the year. The speaker finds this strange or at least unnecessary, but his neighbour wants to continue the practice because, as he says, “good fences make good neighbours.” 

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 

And spills the upper boulders in the sun; 

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. 

It makes sense that you would not find the gaps in the wall until spring. First of all, during the winter the wall is probably covered in snow and it is hard to look at it closely. Also, in the springtime the plants grow wild. It is this combination of erosion and plant intrusion that is likely causing the wall to fall apart, and this is the reason why it needs to be mended every year. 

The gaps I mean, 

No one has seen them made or heard them made, 

But at spring mending-time we find them there. 

So the spring is the most mischievous time of year, because between the rain, the snow melting, and the plants growing, the wall doesn’t stand a chance! There will be holes all over it. They have to fix the wall every spring even though there are no animals on either farm. This is why the speaker does not want to bother with it. His neighbour thinks that having a good stable wall between them creates good boundaries in their relationship. It is a metaphor. It also does get them together once a year, which is more than some neighbours do I guess ! 

47. What makes “Mending Wall” a poem? 

Ans: Robert Frost’s poem, “Mending Wall,” is one of the representatives of modern poetry, but not in the high-art sense of poets like T.S. Eliot. This is considered a poem because it tells a story with images and figurative language. Frost uses the wall as a metaphor for boundaries. The speaker doesn’t understand why a wall has to separate him from his neighbour. The speaker wonders throughout the poem why the wall must be repaired, and uses images like elves and spells to try to explain the mystery of it all. 

Frost inverted language like “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” which is a poetic device for aiding rhythm and pace of a poem. He uses metaphors saying that boulders are loaves—saying they are like loaves of bread. He uses repeated lines throughout the poem for emphasis. This text has no linear plot, which makes it a poem, rather than something like a short story. 

48. What is the neighbour’s father’s saying in lending Wall”? 

Ans: The answer to this question can be found in the nal three lines of the poem : 

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.”

This is not the first time that the reader has read this saying in the poem. The line appears about halfway through. and the reader learns in the final lines that the man is likely parroting the same saying that his father always said. The poem’s speaker expresses some frustration at the saying, and he openly wonders why fences make good neighbours. It is a great question, and it leads to some wonderful discussion in literature classes because it’s usually a 50/50 split among my students. Half the class agrees with the speaker that the fence is pointless and ultimately keeps the neighbours apart from each other, and the other half of the class believes the fence creates a more cordial relationship because it clearly defines what belongs to each man. There’s less likelihood of fighting and arguing because each man has his own clearly defined space. Personally, I waffle back and forth on the issue; however, I have always found it interesting that the structure of the poem actually looks like a real fence. Turn the page 90 degrees to the left, and you will see a repetition of fence posts. 

49. What lines are repeated in the poem “Mending Wall” ? 

Ans: The lines “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” and “good fences make good neighbours” are repeated. 

Repetition is used in poems to add emphasis and highlight significant themes. In this case, the poem is about a pair of neighbours who disagree on whether there should be a wall between their farms. One thinks that it is better to keep your neighbour at a distance, and the other does not see the point of the wall and prefers more contact between neighbours. 

The first and last lines of the poem are parts of the repetition. Each of these are related to the main theme of the poem, which is that we put up walls against other people because we feel that we are better off keeping others at a distance. 

The speaker does not like maintaining the wall between the two farms. He feels that it is unnecessary, using the fact that the wall seems to crumble as proof that it should not be there. 

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. 

The neighbour, on the other hand, carefully reconstructs the wall each year. The speaker wants to be a good neighbour by getting to know his neighbour, but the neighbour wants to be a good neighbour by avoiding his neighbour. It is two different approaches to the act of coexisting with others. 

The neighbour has a policy that seems to support keeping the wall intact. 

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 two positions seem to have no middle ground. The speaker feels that since neither of them have livestock, there is no reason to have a wall. The neighbour prefers tradition. He likes to keep himself isolated from his neighbours. 

It should be noted that both neighbours work to rebuild the wall. This is a metaphor too. Although the speaker’s neighbour prefers the wall, keeping it there is a collaboration between the two of them. When others shut us out, we need to cooperate in order for them to really keep us out. 

50. What are the political implications of Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: The political implications of Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” can be variously interpreted. For example, the very first line of the poem —”Something there is that doesn’t love a wall” — might at first seem a subtle condemnation of private property. By the second line, however, the poem’s attention seems to shift from political reactions to the actions of nature. Yet by the fifth line, attention has returned to human beings, particularly to hunters who have damaged the speaker’s wall : 

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. (5-9) 

Should we sympathise with the speaker, whose private property has been damaged ? Or should we sympathise with the hunters, who ignore what might be considered illegitimate encroachments on common human rights, on property that should belong to everyone ? Should we sympathise with the speaker, whose property has been vandalised and who has to work hard to repair the damage ? Or is he merely a self-interested landowner whom Marxists might condemn ? In either case, it is surprising that he does not seem angrier about the vandalism. 

The fact that the neighbour helps the speaker walk the wall to inspect the damage suggests an admirable cooperation between the two of them — a kind of political compact based on equality and shared concerns. But it seems, of course, in the mutual interests both of them that the wall be maintained. Still, although they own land, they hardly seem rich or greedy or interested in oppressing anyone else. They are not mere overseers of hired labour. Instead, they have to work hard themselves to replace the stones (“We wear our fingers rough with handling them” [20]). 

Moreover, the two landowners are never likely to engage in any kind of angry power struggle, especially since 

My apple trees will never get across 

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

He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”(25-27) 

What should we make ofthe neighbour’s reply ? Does it suggest that a respect for individual property rights is the basis of any truly civil society ? When the speaker replies by saying, 

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, 

That wants it down,” (35-36) 

Is he suggesting some sort of socialistic ideal ? His own actions seem to contradict such an interpretation. Meanwhile, the neighbour’s view seems rooted in tradition – perhaps mere, irrational tradition: “He will not go behind his father’s saying” (43). Although the speaker has challenged that saying, he has also conceded that the relationship between him and his neighbour is a special case (30-31). The poem ends, then, by having raised political questions without having offered any simple propagandistic answer to them. 

51. In “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, what is the gap the speaker refers to? 

Ans : The two men in this poem joke about what it is that has caused the gaps in the wall that separates their two properties. Physically, the wall is made of stones. and therefore it needs to be periodically repaired. The speaker suggests that the gaps are made by elves, but. more likely, they are simply places where stones have become dislodged by tree roots, bad weather, animal behaviour, and so on and so forth. 

Metaphorically. of course, this poem is also working on another level. It might be tempting to interpret the “gaps” in the wall as in roads, places through which intimacy could creep into the relationship between the two men, but it is clear that this wall, in fact, is unifying for them. The neighbour believes that the existence of the wall, a finely demarcated line between their two properties, is necessary for a good relationship between the two “good neighbours. “As such, in meeting every year to walk the wall and repair the gaps, the two men are actually contributing to the upkeep and stability of their neighbourly relationship. It is not a close relationship, but it is one which is kept positive because it is defined by rules, and the firmly-ruled line represented by the wall cannot have gaps left in it. 

52. 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, the 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. 

53. How can I write an essay on “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost? 

Ans: There are so many directions your essay could take if you were to write on “Mending Wall.” If your teacher has given you a specific prompt to answer, I would be sure to write in an essay in response to that. However, in the absence of a specific prompt, it will be up to you to formulate the question and the answer. In that case, you could write about “Mending Wall” in the context of Frost’s other poems. “Mending Wall” contains many trademarks of Frost’s poetry: imagery, rural setting, and metaphors. You could explore how “Mending Wall” represents a particular moment in Frost’s evolution as a poet. Is it in keeping with Frost’s style, or does it represent a significant departure from some aspect of his poetry? You could also write an essay that analysed how Frost’s use of literary devices developed the theme of the poem. Or you might attempt to offer a unique analysis of the line “Good fences make good neighbours.” This line is known to many who haven’t read this poem, and it has been analysed by many scholars. You might consider tackling this very ironic line. 

54. How does the structure of the poem “Mending Wall” contribute to its description? 

Ans: “Mending Wall” describes the old, low stone walls of New- England  that still often mark property lines. In the poem, the narrator and his neighbour walk the length of their diNiding wall. Each one picks up stones that have fallen naturally from it (or from hunters who dismantled part of it to find a hiding rabbit), and places them back where the rocks will fit and stay. 

The poem is generally written in iambic pentameter, but the stresses on the syllables aren’t consistent. The line “But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather,” even has an extra syllable at the end. The poem uses no rhyme scheme. And if you look at the format of each line, the profile looks a bit ragged — just like real stone walls do, with some parts that fit smoothly and others that stick out a bit more than others. For these reasons, it could be said that the structure of the poem matches its subject matter well. 

55. How is Robert Frost successful in conveying the need for barriers in society in his poem “Mending Wall”? 

Ans: The underlying idea of “good fences make good neighbours” is critical in understanding why barriers are essential in our society. In a pluralistic, democratic society, a sphere of negative freedom (the right to be left alone, free from intrusion) is critical. Each individual has their own sphere of rights (the speaker’s apple orchards and his neighbour’s pines), and the best way each can be preserved is with some demarcation or barrier to indicate a line that cannot, nor should not be crossed. When the speaker’s neighbours says for the second time, “Good fences make good neighbours,” he seems to be saying it with a certain resolution that the ability to leave people alone is critical in understanding the preservation of rights. Frost does a great job in proving this throughout the poem. While he wonders, “what is being walled in and what is being walled out,” he also realises that the neighbour will not change, the mending wall will still be there, stones piled high. While the speaker might want a realm of barriers to be removed, the reality is that if one person creates this barrier, the other, by definition, has to accept it. The best way for the preservation of our plots of lands or rights to be preserved is with these barriers. When we have our own sense of self maintained, then we live out the idea that “good fences make good neighbours.” 

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