The Circle by Dave Eggers and Mending Wall by Robert Frost


In “The Circle,” it becomes evident that “Technology in society – good or ill” is the subject. The whole book focuses on the idea of capturing and streaming everything openly. Even intimate relations are observed in public, but somebody doesn’t always watch. In the novel, for example, with SeeChange, someone “transparently” signifies that they have nothing to conceal. Mae meets Kaden discreetly, which anybody could know about, but she takes the risk. This is talked about with the movie “IRobot” because it has a similar subject. First, the AI behaves but later in the movie, they have progressed too far and have dominated people. There was a frequent debate on the planet about technological goodies and bad, but it seems that people don’t hear. In other words, curiosity is doom. On the other hand, although the poet seems to be talking about a simple story about mending a shattered wall between two farmers’ farms, he speaks about a much bigger and deeper subject, the barrier between human beings. Writing just like he did in the early 20th century, he saw the boundaries being drawn between nations. He knows that these boundaries are designed to protect immigrants and the safety of inhabitants in the respective countries. However, Frost feels that there is no validity for such explanations. This brings us to the comparative analysis of the themes talked about in the novel and the poem.

Change and Modernity

The underlying concept underpinning its technological satire is not shy about Eggers: modernization comes at a very high price. The destinies of many notable characters of the narrative demonstrate this topic. Mae showing a system designed to harness the abundance of social media for public good leads her ex-boyfriend Mercer to suicide. A device that helps you connect with your ancestors leads Annie to a tense breakup (Maurer 1). Mae chooses technology over faith in the well-intended doomsday Kalden/Ty, whose company he founded him all but dismissed. Mae herself observes that she learned “the ability to look, to the outside world, totally serene, or even cheerful by constant observation, while in her head all war turmoil”. According to Eggers’ newspaper, the primary risk of modernity is individuals who desire and receive excessive knowledge about the world, others, and themselves, motivated by the modern push toward more (and more invasive) technologies.

The poem on the other hand poses an implicit inquiry as to the speaker of “The mending wall” and the debate concerning the political and practical purpose of the wall they are repairing. The speaker contends that the belief of a neighbor — that fences are essential for keeping people out of control — is out of date. However, even if his beliefs may be old-fashioned, the neighbor is nonetheless important in the present — conveying the strong belief that society must safeguard people in little ways from behaving in big ways. The poem thus encourages its readers to examine if the discussion between the speaker and his neighbor is ever solved—and, more broadly, if society itself can change.

However, it is not suggested by the poem: whatever the speaker objected to the action, the speaker nonetheless rebuilds the wall. Although the speaker often uses plain, everyday language, he is an educated, lazy figure. Nevertheless, the speaker is probably fluent in the philosophy, precisely countering the neighbor invoking Henry David Thoreau’s writings (about “cows”), who engages himself in fantastic flights and thinks that legendary Elves may be responsible for the destruction of the wall, and who has used a prestigious, blank verse literary form, roughly and perceptibly, to relate ideas to the reader (Chillal 1). The neighbor, though, is rigorous and old-fashioned. In the poem, he simply says one thing – and then he says it again! His speech is unpretentious and straightforward.

The speaker stresses this aspect of the nature of the neighbor: his refusal to think broadly or to examine his thoughts. Instead of considering things for oneself, the neighbor depends on “the words of his father,” that is, on the knowledge he has been given. As a consequence, the neighbor seems to be “like an old-fashioned wild man.” His effort in the reconstruction of the wall is similar to primitive forms of aggression. However, he has not gone beyond that primordial level but perpetuates his aggression by insisting on barriers between individuals. The speaker is, therefore, implicitly a more modern figure.

The speaker feels like someone freed from the “darkness” in which the neighbor moves—and finds a brighter, more serene lifestyle. First, however, the speaker lets the neighbor know when the time is right to fix the wall. Then, the speaker starts the repair, even though the speaker says that it is not necessary. Thus, deliberately or unwittingly, the speaker internalized the need for the wall – or at least internalized the futility of pressing the neighbor too aggressively and against its profound beliefs. (And if there were cows close, the speaker would probably not have a wall problem!). The poem, therefore, argues that as long as people retain beliefs like the neighbor’s, society itself will be impressed, unable to reject their inspirational goals. It is difficult to shake the convictions of the past and adapt for the future.

The Value of Work

At the start of the tale, young Mae believes that she has landed the job of her dreams in a hip company that has a series of catchy slogans, such as “Secrets are lies, privacy is robbery,” and “Nothing can be wrong.” Mae is at first almost overwhelmed by the sophisticated company philosophy, which requires complete transparency. Even the structure is made of glass. If Mae comes to work on her very first day, all her data, music, images, messages are copied to the company’s equipment from her laptop and smartphone and will be used from then (Maharani 1). All information is secured safely in the company’s cloud, safeguarded by Circle computer-generated passwords. It’s dawning on the reader now in the story that something isn’t right.

Nevertheless, Mae does the best of the situation and gives her confidence in the benefits of unconditional openness and other such ideals that are addressed daily by Circle workers. Participation, for example, is vital, and one must make something by letting others share life and knowledge. Mae learns soon that it is important to be available to everyone at all times immediately. It could even be catastrophic to go into the restroom without a mobile phone. Mae’s ex-friend and analog equivalent try to warn her of the company’s dangers: “In truth, your instruments produce extremely intense social wants. Nobody requires the degree of contact you provide. It doesn’t improve anything. It’s not nutritious.” This fear of continuous touch “is the perfect recipe for continuing interpersonal disasters,” Eggers remarked in an interview with the newspaper “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.” The story includes all manner of disasters, most of them filmed via small cameras, all and anything being recorded to be posted promptly online. As a result, everyone else will be visible to everyone else, everywhere, and the ones who oppose this “openness” risk the prospect of being murdered.

As the speaker says, the task of “Mending Wall” is a ritual: every year, the speaker and the neighbor walk together along the wall and rehabilitate the areas destroyed by Frost or hunters over the last year. It is hard, draining work: their hands are pulled away towards the end. The difficulties of the job and the need to update it every year raise the question of why – and whether – the wall must continue to be rebuilt. More generally, the rehabilitation of the wall is an analogy for human work (SAIBABU 1). Although speakers and neighbors continue to reconstruct the wall, the poem questions the value of work for the sake of work—and whether another relationship to work may be possible. The core of the poem’s meditation is a normal, almost boring act: the speaker and the neighbor take rocks and put them on the wall.

The act recalls a famous fable that Frost, classically trained at Harvard, and probably knew quite well: the Sisyphus myth. Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, was sentenced to spend forever rolling a rock up a hill as a punishment for being craftily and deceptive. When he reached the top of the hill, the boulder rolled back down, and he had to start over. Sisyphean is about the labor the speaker and the neighbor are carrying out in “Mending Wall”: every year, the same wall gets reconstructed—a wall with no practical function. For Sisyphus, the boulder always rolls down to the ground of the hill because the gods order it. ‘Mending Wall’ has a fruitless, however, but much less religious vision: it is the cold, instead of the gods, that repeatedly breaks the wall and forces the speaker and the neighbor to repair it again and again.

Thus, nature itself defeats human objectives by harming and destroying human objects and forcing them to repeat infinite numbers of the same pointless endeavors without making any progress. Since their labor is monotonous and useless, the speaker argues they could be better off if they stopped completely fixing the wall. But the neighbor insists on continuing to do so. And he would add that the effort itself is excellent and precious: it may not be only the fence that makes “nice neighbors,” but the act of rebuilding it for one common objective. The speaker’s work can only be justified by their results or actual goods, in this case: the material and lasting change it produces in the world. But the effort is justified as a goal in itself for the neighbor, and that activity (at least in his opinion) is part of a just and sustainable society. This can also serve as an analogy for initiatives such as poetry: the worth of creative labor is implied in this discussion – a work that is simply lovely and doesn’t affect or benefit society.


Dave Eggers’ remarkable novel The Circle contains several themes which conform in its interpretation and depiction. The subject of privacy is, however, first and foremost the main topic of the novel. The exemplified confidentiality in the narrative, including the innumerable number of cameras and the entire glass workspace, is used to learn lessons about the significance of privacy both individually and in society. In addition, once the examples of privacy are discovered, diverse viewpoints can develop on the relevance of privacy in day-to-day human life and in society itself as a whole. Through Mae’s story, we discover that personal privacy is necessary to individuals instead of being precisely like one another and that privacy is important for members of society who work well together and progress as people. We also compare and contrast The Circle with the United States government today in terms of privacy and assessing The Circle in terms of the privacy and limitations that need to be applied in a company.  According to Frost, cultural mixing is a good thing, and all nations should endeavor to learn about the cultures of their surrounding countries. Only then can cultural synthesis occur, and great art is built. Art follows no bounds or frontiers. The same concerns are addressed in US poetry, English poetry, and European poetry. In a world of growing divide, Frost feels a kind of fellowship with all those poets who write on the union of the human species throughout the world. Like his neighbor, some people would do anything to protect so-called intruders and protect their property with all their strength, but Frost wants to urge them to dismantle the walls between them. He desires open discussion amongst these groups to solve problems together to make the world better.




Chillal, Apurva. “Robert Frost and themes in his poems.” (2020).

Maurer, Kathrin, and Christian F. Rostbøll. “Demoxie: Reflections on digital democracy in Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle.” First Monday (2020).

Maharani, Ekawati Tyas, and Yeny Prastiwi. Protest Against the Loss of Privacy in Dave Eggers’ The Circle Novel (2013): A Sociological Perspective. Diss. Universitas Muhammadiyah Surakarta, 2019.


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