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Final Essay on The Balloon

Norman Rankin

Eric Rettberg

ENLT 2514

May 6th, 2014

“I Saw the Sign”

Symbols are often used in literature. Even more, during the time when American Modernist reigned in literature, their usage of symbols didn’t stop at minute details within the story, they sometimes made major objects and even the actual structure of the story symbols. One author that we have studied that made a major “object” a symbol in their story was Donald Barthelme. More specifically, Donald Barthelme used a specific symbol to signify hope throughout the story that will be talked about in this paper. In Donald Barthelme’s story, The Balloon, the physical balloon can signify many things, but one major thing it symbolizes is the hope of the speaker. With how the balloon is portrayed and with how the speaker explains his rational for the balloon, we can see how the balloon is a symbol of hope for many, but specifically a symbol of hope for the speaker during a dark time for him.

To begin with, in Donald Barthelme’s The Balloon, we are presented with a massive object called “the balloon” that the speaker lets loose in New York. Throughout the story, many different (if you will) observations are given about the balloon too describe its form, appearance, or just all around presence in the area. For example, the balloon was referred to at different times with words such as smooth, square corners, bulging, unlimited, etc. This provides us, or rather does not provide us with, a defined shape for this balloon. This is important because it eludes at the fact that the actual physicality of this object is not as simple as that of a regular balloon or object. This not only makes us question how real (in a sense) the balloon actually is, but also that this balloon possibly means something more; as in, rather than it just being a normal object, it’s a more symbolic object left for possible interpretations. This can also be seen when we further evaluate what is said about the balloon.

Throughout the story, the balloon is treated as this grand thing that all of the people of the area notice. This presented importance of the area, along with its lack shape, holds somewhat of a religious undertone towards the balloon. A starting example of this can be seen early on when the speaker states “…there were no situations, simply the balloon hanging there-muted heavy grays and browns for the most part, contrasting with walnut and soft yellows” (Barthelme p. 605). This along with the previously presented size of the balloon provides a similarity between it and the Sun. Throughout history, the Sun has been seen as not only a symbol of hope, but it has also been an icon for religion; as it is often seen as a god, related to gods, a God in itself, or the halo that is always portrayed being behind Jesus. Some might say that this is very speculatory, however, this is a very possible interpretation of the story if we keep in mind that Donald Barthelme struggled with religion in his house (specifically with his mother). There are also points throughout the story that seem as if they can be related to how religion and discrepancies with the Sun have been viewed throughout history. For instance, a little bit after the beginning, the speaker begins telling how people saw the balloon as interesting, how they sought meaning in it, how some felt hostility and frustration towards it, and that “…secret test conducted by night that convinced them that little or nothing could be done in the way of removing or destroying the balloon…” (Barthelme p. 605-606). All of these statements seem a bit extreme if this were simply just some balloon. However, when looked at as a symbol for hope and/or religion that many find there hope in, it makes more sense because people have always had such feeling towards where others find hope and have been known to try to persecute each other for it sometimes while masking the meanings of the persecutions to the public. Despite all these interpretations given by others in the story about the speaker’s balloon, it is important to look at how the speaker describes the balloon himself.

As previously stated, the balloon is symbolic of the speakers hope by its similarities to the Sun and by having religious references. We can see this more towards the very end of the story as the speaker directly gives a more personal account of his relationship with the balloon. First of all, the speaker confirms that the balloon is his in the opening sentences of the final paragraph, “I met you under the balloon, on the occasion of your return from Norway; you asked if it was mine; I said it was” (Barthelme p. 607). This is important because now we know that the speaker associates himself with the balloon, and that what it represents is directly related to the speaker. Next, the speaker explains a little bit more about the balloons representation. He states, “…having to do with the unease I felt at your absence, and with sexual deprivation…” (Barthelme p. 607); this shows that the speaker was going through a hard time in his life while he was distanced from his lover. Generally in hard and difficult times, many people will look to religion and symbols of hope to give them the reassurance they need, and to help them get through whatever situation they may be in. This highly suggests, if not considered to directly suggest, that the balloon was created so that the speaker could distract himself from his separation from his lover. This further agrees with the previous statement on people finding and having hope in something during hard times. We can further see this idea as the speaker states, “but now that your visit to Bergen has been terminated, it is no longer necessary or appropriate” (Barthelme p. 607). Just as many seek hope in hard times, many don’t go to that symbol of hope for as much comfort once they are no longer in the situation that caused them to find said hope. We can see this with the speaker because now that his love has returned, he no longer has to long for them and look to something else that reminds him of them; or in short, he no longer needs this symbol of hope because he has what he was hopeful for. Finally, an additional alluding to the balloon being hope for the speaker can be seen with the final thing the speaker states, which also relates to what was being said about no longer needing hope as much when the problem is resolved. The speaker states, “Removal of the balloon was easy; trailer trucks carried away the depleted fabric, which is now stored in West Virginia, awaiting some other time of unhappiness, sometime, perhaps, when we are angry with one another” (Barthelme p. 608). We can see that the speaker has not completely abandoned his hope, as it still exists in a place where he can locate it later. However, since all will seemingly be well now that his love has returned, he can simply hold onto his hope versus having his hope be visible and somewhat controlling of his life.

In summation, it is too simple for a reader to just assume there is no meaning behind this balloon as a possible interpretation when it is such an important aspect of the story. One possible interpretation, as reiteration, of the balloon is that it is a symbol of hope for the speaker. We can see this by the subtle religious references presented in descriptions of the balloon given by others and the speaker. We can also see how the balloon is a representation of the speaker’s hope by how the speaker describes the origins of the balloon, and how he treats the balloon after he no longer needs hope, at the end of the story. All in all, even though the symbol of hope could have been to the speaker, it is interesting that Donald Barthelme choose a balloon to represent it because it shows that people can find hope in almost anything and further brings up the question of is what the reader finds hope in any less strange than what the speaker found his hope in.

 

Works Cited

Barthelme, Donald. The Balloon. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1981. Web.

“You need to learn how to walk the world, he told me. There’s a lot out there.”

Throughout this story, we are forced to see certain aspects of life differently. More specifically, we are forced to take notice of things that constantly happen in the world that may be considered “wrong.” For clarification, we tend to know good and well that things like shoplifting(p. 1669), need for money(p. 1670), blatant disrespect(p. 1668), and molestation(p. 1669) are done by both good and bad people alike, but we tend to push the notions to the back of our minds. We see a lot of things like this presented in this story; and it’s one thing to know and be passive about things like this, but another to read it and bring it to light.

This sentence is important to the overall story because Beto not only seems like a best friend to the main character, but almost like an older brother that is teaching his younger brother about the world. This is interesting because when Beto mentions this to the narrating character, he is simply talking about why he (Beto) interacts with people, yet what is said is so applicable to their relationship in the means that he actually teaches him “good” and “bad” things including sexual encounters.

Another interesting thing related to this sentence is that while it can be agreed that what they are doing is “wrong”, it isn’t necessarily consider it “bad.” For instance with their shoplifting, there is more concern (by all included parties) about them getting caught than the moral implications of it. Likewise, the speaker is clearly unsettled about being touched by Beto, but never really acts to stop it. This relates to what was being mentioned earlier and the topic sentence because is harsh conditions, one must often do what they have to in order to survive and change their mindset in order to cope with it.

Deconstruction of Rita Dove’s “Adolescence—I”

Original:

Entire original text.

 

Deconstructed:

In water-heavy nights

In the tickling grasses

The air closed over

Fireflies whirred, near,

Into miniature suns

Against a feathery sky.

 

Behind grandmother’s porch

We knelt and whispered:

Linda’s face hung before us, pale as a pecan,

And it grew wise as she said: 

      “A boy’s lips are soft,

     As soft as a baby’s skin.”

Her words, my ear.

And in the distance I could hear streetlamps ping.

 

In this deconstruction, I choose to take out things that aren’t usually considered natural and separate them from the things that would be considered more natural. While humans are natural, their presence in nature isn’t (in most cases) natural. By this I mean: humans usually feel out of place when being out in nature (out of something with a roof). Likewise, nature generally tends to seem out of place in a human’s domain. Separating the pome to read the nature and human worlds separately, instead of together, goes along with one of Dove’s styles of displacement and “borders of two different worlds.” Although one can happen in the other, they are ultimately two separate worlds that just happen to be encompassing of the same world.

 

Further, we see two different things happening in the poem. We see coming of age and curiosity of the children(?) as they discuss lips and probably other sexual related things. But we also see individual pieces of nature doing whatever it is that nature should be doing. Dover however makes them interacting with one another but never become part of one another. For instance, “the air closed over her words” and “a firefly whirred near my ear” show interaction, but change and borders to each individual world.

Revised Essay on Hemingway

Snows of Kilimanjaro

            It is safe to say that life is never as easy as many people would like it to be; and to make it through life, one must learn how to deal with the positives and negatives of life. There are few people that actually like dealing with anything negative, and even few that are able to remain optimistic in the face of adversity and tragedy. However, there are some people that usually always seem to find peace and optimism in given situations. Unfortunately, this type of attitude can sometimes make a situation more difficult to deal with than if the person were to put some motivation behind their actions instead of complacency with whatever the end result is. In the story The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway, we see how Hemingway uses this relationship to portray an even bigger theme that is: the brighter side of suffering. We can see this idea by the way Hemingway describes the actions of Harry and Helen during Harry’s sickness, and how he describes their actions as Harry come closer and closer to death.

Throughout The Snows of Kilimanjaro, we are presented with the characters of Harry and Helen. These two are in a relationship yet don’t always seem to be a legitimate match for each other. One major cause of this is because, as portrayed in his suffering, Helen seems to be someone whom is the worrier while Harry seems to have more complacency about the situation. We get some insight to this by many of their dialogues together and their past. “‘… I love you really, you know I love you. I’ve never loved any one else the way I love you.’ He slipped into the familiar lie he made his bread and butter by’” (Hemingway p. 1025). “After he no longer meant what he said, his lies were more successful with women that when he had told them the truth…. He had had his life and it was over and then he went on living it again with different…” (Hemingway p. 1026). “It wasn’t this woman’s fault. If it had not been she it would have been another. If he lived by a lie he should try to die by it” (Hemingway p. 1026). “He had traded it for security, for comfort too, there was no denying that, and for what else? He did not know… (Hemingway p. 1027). These quotes show that even though Harry was not the best person ethically for his reasons for dating, he would always appease his partner to feel good in his minuscule amounts of sufferings of being in relationships he no longer wanted to be in, yet he was complacent with remaining in a relationship with Helen. Versus Helen whom, through the previous tragedies (sufferings) in her life, simply did not want to be alone or bored in the world which made her seek love in someone else (brighter side): “But the lovers bored her. She had been married to a man who never bored her and these people bored her very much… Suddenly, she had been acutely frightened of being alone. But she wanted some one that she respected with her” (Hemingway p. 1027). These portrayals and ideas remain and almost get stronger as Harry’s condition worsens.

The final comparison between Harry and Helen, and how it portrays Hemingway’s idea of the brighter side of suffering, can be seen with how each of the deal with Harry’s final moments. Towards the end there are a few places where it can be argued that Harry actually passed versus what parts were simply dreamlike or after he died. In the parts leading up to his death, we as the readers are presented with a strong sense of suspense as death looms closer and more heavily on Harry It can be said that Harry’s time of actual death occurs when Helen no longer responds to him in their short and last dialogue together: “‘…You’re the most complete man I’ve ever know.’ ‘Christ.’ he said. ‘How little a woman knows. What it that? Your intuition?’” (Hemingway p. 1035). We are ironically given deaths introduction right after Harry says “Christ” and Helen no longer responds to Harry. Throughout his standoff with death however, Harry seems to focus more on the physicality of death rather than the fact that death has come for him, further showing his complacency with what he knows is to come. This is opposed to your average person whom would most likely freak out and be terrified that their life is about to end while also being terrified of death itself, rather than antagonize how it looks and how its breath smells as Harry does. However, we get a sense of peace and relief at the end of the section where it states “And then, while they lifted the cot, suddenly it was all right and the weight went from his chest” (Hemingway p. 1035). After Harry’s encounter with death, a new paragraph seemingly set apart from the previous section begins that seems hopeful. In this section, one could easily forget that it’s very possible that Harry just died in the previous section because this section is so optimistic and through the perspective of Harry. This is true even until the end when Hemingway subtly, clearly, and pleasantly reminds the readers that Harry has passed: “…all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going” (Hemingway p. 1038). This imagery has a sort of religious tone to it; more specifically it seems as Harry is being taken to Heaven at this point, making it a happy ending for him. Helen on the other hand is not as lucky and does not have such a happy ending. She is understandably hysterical because she has lost another important person in her life: “Then she said, ‘Harry, Harry!’ Then her voice rising, “Harry! Please, Oh Harry!’” (Hemingway p. 1037). She has a good reason to react in such a way, but it is a reaction regardless when she possibly could have been happy his suffering has ended.

Ultimately, through the use of these two characters and their interactions with one another, Hemingway effectively presents how there can always be a brighter side of suffering. While Harry has a more complacent attitude about his likely upcoming death throughout the story, Helen does not. We can see this through how they act as Harry’s infection spreads and how they act during Harry’s final moments and final moment. And even though this idea is not always directly stated, it holds when we pay attention to how the story progresses. This in turn keeps up with how Hemingway says he tries to write: “‘I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg… There is seven-eighths of it underwater for every part that shows’” (Hemingway p. 1019).

Introduction on Maxine Hong Kingston

Maxine Hong Kingston was not only a noted American Modernist, but her works were also of importance to the feminist movement and immigrants living in the United States. As a first generation Asian American, she knew the societal struggles of both being a woman in America, and being so close, yet so far from her own culture.

Born in Stockton California on October 27th, 1940, Kingston was the first of six children of her mother and father to be born in the United States. Kingston attended the University of California, Berkeley in 1962. It is here that she graduated, earned her BA in English, and found and later married a fellow classmate and father of her son. Kingston also spent most of her life in California, moving to Honolulu Hawaii in 1967 and teaching English at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu for a few years, then moving back to California to teach at Berkeley around the 1980s.

Finding inspiration in other American Modernist like Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Virginia Woolf, Kingston was also attributed to helping the feminist movement and civil rights in America with her works like The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts and China Men. She however faced criticism, as many authors do, for tainting traditional Chinese myths and stories to please her audience. Despite the criticisms, Kingston still holds awards like a National Book Critics Circle Award and the American Book Award under her literary belt.

Maxine Hong Kingston’s particular way of standing out from other writers is that it is classified as nonfiction, yet the stories hold myth-like features and somewhat fictional-like personal interpretations/memoirs. Since the story presented in No Name Woman is Kingston’s recollection of a story told by her mother, it is important to pay attention to the vividness, accepted beauty of language, themes, symbols, and any other importance of items that Kingston presents in this nonfictional work. Throughout, one may question the reality of the text, but one must also recall that it is classified as nonfiction.

Finally, bringing a quick introduction to the assigned reading, No Name Woman is Kingston’s retelling of a story her mother told her when she was “coming of age” to be cautious in her actions. The story within the story tells of how Maxine’s aunt (on her father’s side) got pregnant by someone other than her husband, and how the other villagers and family members of the aunt saw this as disgraceful and “gull.” It is important to note however that it is never clear if the child was a boy or girl or if the aunt willingly had illegitimate sex, although there is room for speculation of both that could go either way. In the end of the story within the story (although clearly stated at the beginning) the aunt jumps in the family well with the baby, committing a murder suicide to either save and protect, or escape the shame and solitude she and her baby would have had to face.

Comparison between Ginsberg and Coover

“angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of the night” (Ginsberg p. 1356)

“From the other rooms come the sounds of a baby screaming, water running, a television musical (no words: probably a dance number—patterns of gliding figures come to mind)”  (Coover p. 206)

In these two stories, the beginnings are very important because not only are they the foreground for the variations to come, but they are also the last time the stories will be as clear as they are. Throughout Howl, we are given various and changing descriptions of the specific group of people talked about at the beginning. A description like “who got busted in their public beards returning through Laredo with a belt of marijuana for New York” (p. 1357) and “who cooked rotten animals lung heart feet tail borsht & tortillas as dreaming of the pure vegetable kingdom” (p. 1359) seemingly have nothing or little in common. However, remembering that all of this relates to the group of people talked about at the beginning gives this story the only sort of structure one can hold on to while reading.

Likewise, in The Babysitter, we are presented with a variety of scenarios all of which relate back to the first section that tells that the babysitter has arrived. For instance, there are some scenarios that have Mr. Tucker coming back to find everyone having sex in the living room, while there are other scenarios where he walks in and nothing is happening. Each scenario is its own section, just as each new description in Howl is a new section, which makes the reader question the togetherness and order of the stories as a whole; which adds a sort of metaphysics like aspect both stories.

Hemingway

Snows of Kilimanjaro

There are few people that like dealing with anything negative, let alone be able to remain optimistic in the face of adversity and tragedy. However, there are some people that can ordinarily go through a tough situation without seemingly breaking down or being discouraged; and in extreme events those types of people can be optimistic yet also realistic in their actions and words. Now this is not to say that all of the people like this necessarily enjoy dealing with a bad situation, rather, there are fewer people that can commonly make light of such a situation. Therefore for the purpose of this paper, optimistic will not necessarily mean always knowing it will all be okay in the end, but rather situations tend not to bother those optimistic people nearly as much as others. Of course, since the majority of people aren’t the type of person mentioned above, those that are somehow related to the same situation may not be as cool headed because they have to deal with both the situation and the aggravation of trying to get optimistic person to react the severity of the situation in a more “fitting” manner to them. This is understandable because a person of such optimistic behavior may sometimes decide not to react to a situation because they believe it will work out in the end/that their fate is already sealed (again, optimistic yet realistic in nature). In Ernest Hemingway’s story Snows of Kilimanjaro we can see these types of confrontation and relationship between the two characters Harry and Helen.

As stated, Harry and Helen have a conflicting relationship between a person that is realistic yet optimistic and a person that reacts a bit more stressed to situations. We are given some insight into their personalities throughout different parts of the story. Throughout the story, we get the sense that Helen is more concerned with Harry’s health and well-being more so than Harry is. One might say that the fighting and cruelty towards her is caused because of his sickness; however, the few times we are allowed into the mind of Harry, we see that he is just simply an ass in general: “‘… I love you really, you know I love you. I’ve never loved any one else the way I love you.’ He slipped into the familiar lie he made his bread and butter by’” (Hemingway p. 1025). “After he no longer meant what he said, his lies were more successful with women that when he had told them the truth…. He had had his life and it was over and then he went on living it again with different…” (Hemingway p. 1026). “It wasn’t this woman’s fault. If it had not been she it would have been another. If he lived by a lie he should try to die by it” (Hemingway p. 1026). Versus Helen whom, through the previous tragedies in her life, simply did not want to be alone or bored in the world (again relating to the necessity of reactions): “But the lovers bored her. She had been married to a man who never bored her and these people bored her very much… Suddenly, she had been acutely frightened of being alone. But she wanted some one that she respected with her” (Hemingway p. 1027). Some might expect a relationship like this to not be very stable, however Helen, as a person that lives more by reactions, is fueled by Harry’s “does and says what he wants because nothing will truly turn out badly” like attitude. And Helen somewhat added a structure to Harry’s life that made him feel even more like everything would be okay, as we can see when he thinks, “He had traded it for security, for comfort too, there was no denying that, and for what else? He did not know… (Hemingway p. 1027)

The final comparison between Harry and Helen can be seen with how each of the deal with Harry’s final moments. Towards the end there are a few places where it can be argued that Harry actually passed versus what parts were simply dreamlike or after he died. In the parts leading up to his death, we as the readers are presented with a strong sense of suspense as death looms closer and more heavily on Harry It can be said that Harry’s time of actual death occurs when Helen no longer responds to him in their short and last dialogue together: “‘…You’re the most complete man I’ve ever know.’ ‘Christ.’ he said. ‘How little a woman knows. What it that? Your intuition?’” (Hemingway p. 1035). We are ironically given deaths introduction right after Harry says “Christ” and Helen no longer responds to Harry. Throughout his standoff with death however, he seems to focus more on death than he does about the fact that death has come for him. It is hard to say whether or not he is necessarily ready to die, but his attitude towards death seems more like he is still hopeful that she will help him send death away yet he realizes his time is nigh. This is opposed to your average person whom would most likely freak out and be terrified not only about that their life is about to end but also terrified of death itself, rather than antagonize how it looks and how its breath smells. After Harry’s encounter with death, a new paragraph seemingly set apart from the previous section begins that seems hopeful. In this section, one could easily forget that it’s very possible that Harry just died in the previous section because this section is so optimistic and through the perspective of Harry. This is true even until the end when Hemingway subtly, clearly, and pleasantly reminds the readers that Harry has passed: “…all he could see, as wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro. And then he knew that there was where he was going” (Hemingway p. 1038). This imagery has a sort of religious tone to it; more specifically it seems as Harry is being taken to Heaven at this point, making it a happy ending for him. Helen on the other hand is not as lucky and does not have such a happy ending. She is understandably hysterical because she has lost another important person in her life: “Then she said, ‘Harry, Harry!’ Then her voice rising, “Harry! Please, Oh Harry!’” (Hemingway p. 1037). She has a good reason to react in such a way, but it is a reaction regardless when she possibly could have been happy his suffering has ended.

Ultimately, through the use of these two characters, Hemingway effectively presents two different types of personalities. Through their back stories, personality types, and all around manner of dealing with situations you would think that a relationship between two people like this wouldn’t work or be stable. However, Hemingway shows that both were completed by the other because Harry’s realistic yet optimistic like attitude was given structure by Helen’s type of personality which is to react more to things and notion that everything might not turn out well.

… any man who ever played poker once with Uncle Buddy would never mistake him again for Uncle Buck or anybody else. (Faulkner p.7)

Throughout this story, Faulkner keeps a constant theme of, and toys with, the concept of people playing chance with life or the decisions they make. Most of the time however, the chances don’t always seem as logical as other chances we make might seem. For instance, one of the main focuses of the story is to recapture the slave “Tomey Turl” at the cost of $500 through the bet made by Uncle Buck and Mr. Hubert. What is interesting is that this particular slave always returns anyway AND that $500 is a lot of money, especially during the early/mid 1900’s. Logically speaking, why risk $500 on a bet to recapture someone that will return anyway? This bet sets off a variety of other chance related bets between the characters. Some of those following bets/chances we see not only being grouped together in the final game of poker (truly a game of chance), but the game itself was an illogical game of chance. By this I mean everyone knew that Uncle Buddy was indeed a great poker player, yet Mr. Hubert still risked what he had already gained to try to “win” everything he wanted to in the whole situation by accepting Uncle Buddy’s challenge.

What is ironic about how Faulkner uses chance in this story is that even if a decision may not seem like the smartest decision to make when playing chance, many people make them. Faulkner uses these scenarios possibly as an author’s commentary to the fact that your average person takes both good and bad chances in their life, and while it may not make much sense, it is just something people do. This makes the characters much more relatable (in a sense) than if they simply did the logical thing.

Painless (Hemingway 1021)

Painless was a very important word to include as an introduction to this story. While reading, it is very clear that what the two main characters are going through is anything but painless! Harry suffers from in incapacitated leg and is slowly dying, while Helen has to care for him until help arrives. However, aside from the physical struggles that these two endure, the mental struggles that are portrayed are anything but painless as well. They both pretty much jump from lover to lover, leaving one for anew once interest is lost, Harry tends to lie, they argue and put strains on each other’s psyche, Helen lost her husband and one of her sons, etc…

So why is painless such an important word? Well throughout the story there are a lot of negative things that happen, and even their language for a majority of the story was structured in a negative manner instead of a positive one, “Wouldn’t you like me to read?” (Hemingway, p. 1022). However, most if not all of the instances in the story never seem to be dreadfully depressing no matter how bad it actually is. Yes he is dying, but he is seemingly enjoying his final moments instead of being miserable and hysterical. Yes Helen is hurt by the words Harry says to her, but she enjoys (while certainly not prefers) taking care of him and being in his presence. Even towards his last moments, as death pushed on his chest, it was not necessary portrayed as painful as we make death out to be, it was almost peaceful especially the scene where he realized that it was over. All in all, I think Hemingway was trying to portray the brighter side of suffering in this story and I believe it worked.

“He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’ Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder If I can put a notion in his head: “Why do they make good neighbors?”

Throughout the poem, Frost portrays the idea of the importance of walls and wall like structures. In this poem, we can interpret the uses of both a physical and a non-physical wall. First of all, as Frost talks about the wall, he uses clear visuals of the creating of a new wall like structure or things that you would imagine being inside of such structures (things like walls being made out of stones or cows being inside of a fence) to give it its physical structure. However, in other parts, he describes a general idea of what a wall does, without describing a physical wall, for instance when he talks about the “outdoor game” (because apple trees do not eat cones). This description leads to the main point of physical walls not only being used to create boundaries to keep the possessions of one neighbor separate from another, but also morphing a sort of trust or rather understanding between two different people. This being said, it is clear that the speaker of the poem understands the usage of walls, but doesn’t necessarily see them as a requirement in this situation, perhaps showing a bit more openness than the neighbor. However, if the speaker is not willing to understand the limits and boundaries of the neighbor, then they most likely will not get along or the “neighbor” will get more defensive, as we see when he adds more stones to the wall after the speaker’s question behind the purpose of walls. This type of relationship can be seen in a variety of interactions with different people; however, Frost uses this specific example to relay this message.