Frank belongs to a garden club and has been the runner up for many years. The contest is coming up and he is hoping to become the new gardening champion, but his neighbors want to put up a fence and believe it would be in the middle of his flower garden, which means moving it would cost him the competition.
Disagreement over a long-standing fence line escalates into an all-out war of taste, class, privilege and entitlement. Both couples “dig in” and fail to see the others’ point of view. Audiences can identify with Frank’s fight for the land they have always thought was theirs. Others will side with his neighbors for standing up for what is rightly theirs. However, the most important message of this play is we need to listen to one another and be willing to compromise.
With the birth of a child, the play ends. Everyone rallies around the new child. They call off the barbeque; the garden contest is no longer that important. They have de-escalated the name calling and they act as good neighbors who support each other.
The moral of the story is we always have to make sure we have our values straight. Put important things first. People are more important than things. Mother Teresa gives us some good advice, “Follow the path of serenity. Why lose your temper if by losing it you offend God, trouble your neighbor and in the end have to set things aright anyway?”
Fr. Michel Quoist, the French writer once said, “Someone who loves their neighbors allows them to be as they are, as they were, and as they will be.” We need to understand each other instead of trying to change them to be like us. Really listen to people’s stories. That’s true love.