Allusive pun

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

For a change, I won’t leave this as an exercise for the reader. Two crucial pieces: a pun on fence —  a barrier or someone who sells stolen goods — and an allusion to Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall”, which ends with the quotation “Good fences make good neighbors”.

4 Responses to “Allusive pun”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    The whole strip gave me a fence.

  2. John Baker Says:

    I’m not sure that every reference to the old proverb “good fences make good neighbors” should be seen as a reference to Frost, just because Frost quoted it in his poem. Incidentally, note that “Mending Wall” actually would make less sense if “good fences make good neighbors” were made up, rather than an existing proverb. The old farmer quotes it, and the Frostian narrator questions its applicability. In any case, it is well-documented that the proverb was around before Frost.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      The question here is not the ultimate source of the proverb, but the cultural resource that the cartoon is tapping from its audience, which I think is surely Frost.

      • John Baker Says:

        There do seem to be quite a few people who know the proverb only from the poem. However, it is not necessary to know the poem to be familiar with the proverb, and the cartoon makes no allusion to the poem beyond the proverb.

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