A common theme profiled in various works of literature is the human desire to break down certain barriers created through issues such as race, gender, relationships and so on. In reading the poems Mending Wall by Robert Frost, Accident, Mass Ave. by Jill McDonough, Learning to Read by Francis E.W. Harper, The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education by Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach as well as listening to the countless short stories of Mr. Stephen Graham Jones it is clear that this theme of "breaking barriers" runs constant in the context of each.
In Mending Wall, two neighbors spend time rebuilding a rock barrier between their two yards. the author ponders as to why the two neighbors waste time building barriers when there is nothing to keep in such as cattle, chickens, and whatever else need restraint. This causes the reader to wonder why people must put up fences or barriers in the first place, physically as they cause nothing but a feeling of restraint. Metaphorically they prevent the expansion of mind, body, and soul disallowing almost a sense of general freedom. Ultimately the author falls into rebuilding the fence and believing in the old folk saying, "Good fences make good neighbors."
In Accident, Mass Ave, a woman feels that she has been hit by some other car on Mass Avenue in modern day Boston, Massachusetts. She steps out of her car immediately with the intention of berating the small woman solely based on the fact that she felt she had to. She begins to curse the woman blaming her and attacking her verbally. Eventually she realizes that the woman hit her tire, ultimately causing no damage. She describes how she would have continued her attack hypothetically if there was damage caused only because that was what she "should have done." She then realizes there is no sense in arguing for no reason and hugs the woman in the middle of the street. This connects to the theme in the fact that she breaks her habit of anger fits as nothing was wrong and her ability to resort to anger is generally unnecessary.
In Learning to Read, the speaker Chloe is a slave who has a desire to learn to read and become educated. She states how the "masters" hide the books to prevent the slaves from learning. Everyone tells her that it is much to late to start to read because she has already turned sixty years old. She is persistent and learns against all odds. She breaks the barriers of oppression that the slave owners had over the slaves and defies all the evil that this culture represented. Ultimately she educates herself to freedom, as she closes by saying she lives free and happy.
In The Service of Faith and Promotion of Justice in Jesuit Higher Education Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach focuses on expressing the Jesuit ideals that focus on breaking free of the barriers that society has created over the course of life. He says that one must go through "structural and attitudinal changes" to contribute to society in a new and free way.
Lastly in the short stories by Stephen Graham Jones, although chilling and strange in nature, we learn various lessons through the horror, In the story about traveling through various cities we learn of the prejudice experienced as people see him only as an exotic Native American. Although the story ends in a gory fashion, the message portrayed is to see beyond what people are on the surface and to break through the barriers of racial stereotyping and prejudice.