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Indeed, as certain as death and the effects of death could be certain. Certainly, death may have different and diverse effects on different people in the community and society. Indeed, death creates an environment of desperation and decay. In the Rashomon story, the different effects that death may have on different people are brought to light. The story descriptively covers the story of a black servant thrust by fate and death into desperation to survive after losing a job. Interwoven with the black servant’s fate, the effects of death are observed through the fates of the senile woman and the deceased young woman.
To begin with, huge numbers of deaths reported at a place may strike as a catastrophe making people flee. For instance, the rampant deaths in Kyoto made people leave town and hence “the Rashomon sheltered at least a few others” from the impounding rain (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 1). A few people in the town are explained by ‘one calamity…In recent years’ (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 1). As a result, the Kyoto city registered massive decay following the exodus. The city also ran into a state of desperation, decay and decline. For instance, ‘people [smashed] Buddhist statues’ and piled them along the road tucked in ‘silver and gold foils and paint flecks’ selling them as firewood. Indeed, the story further expresses the turmoil that the whole city experienced, yet ‘no one bothered’ to care for the Rashomon.
Worse still, rampant cases of death coupled with city decay attract wild animals and other scavengers. For instance, the exodus resulted to dilapidated structures that offered an ideal abode for badgers and foxes. Thieves also took cover in the city’s backstreets and dilapidated structures. Wanton social decay in the Kyoto city inspired the living to litter and dump ‘corpses in the upper story’ (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 1). As a result, the entire neighbourhood became “an eerie place everyone avoided after” sunset (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 1). This also attracted crows that “flocked in great numbers” (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 1). The scavengers created a petrifying and grotesque scene with their pecking of the dead flesh while their white droppings created an ugly scene.
Notwithstanding, rampant deaths coupled with human migration render others unemployed. For instance, the black servant sheltered from the impounding rain at the Rashomon, “had been dismissed from service some days earlier” (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 4). Regrettably, his master had dismissed him after serving dutifully for several years. Therefore, unemployment represents “one small consequence” of the wanton deaths in Kyoto city (Boer, and Donald, 14). Besides, the black servant sat idly at the Rashomon “waiting for the rain to end” unawares of what to do once the rain stopped. He was desperate to survive and find a place to sleep without the prying eyes.
Indeed, “he was determined to find a way to remain alive for an extra day” by doing all that he could (4). As the adage goes, idle minds bleed evil thoughts and hence, the black servant thought of thievery to survive. Although thievery was against his believes, and “he could not find the courage” to decide to go into thieving. Death inflicts both bodily and mental torture. The black servant confronted evil minds and ideas, but he concludes the same. The freezing evening chill was harsh against his body and he had to “drag himself to his feet” (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 5). Worse still, the blowing evening wind was unmerciful to the freezing black servant.
Constant cases of death at a decaying city as Kyoto result to careless dumping of human corpses. Often, the corpses are piled at a segregated place. True, a place with piled up decomposing human corpses is not a haven or paradise. Therefore, it is scary and unorthodox to scour through the piles plucking off their hair. The image of a “scrawny old woman, white haired and monkey-like” scouring through rotting human corpse is also pathetic and weary. However, the black servant inspired by the need to remain alive and curiosity weathered the petrifying smell and flight and approached the woman.
Incessant deaths throw people into a state of panic and desperation. The scrawny old woman endured plucking human hair to survive. She plucked the hairs to make a wig perhaps to weather the harsh weather or sell and make a living. The constant desperation in the city wore on her heavily and her faced wrinkled, her eyes reddened and became predatorily sharp while she cawed like a crow in her voice. It is obvious that the perpetual deaths had hardened her body, spirit and soul alike. She was contented with plucking off and unaffectedly arguing that the corpses deserved her wrath.
Through the old woman’s anecdote, readers learn that desperation as a result of the deaths drove people into different, diverse and complicated business trades. For instance, in her justification, the scrawny old woman reasoned that the young woman “cut snakes into four inch pieces” and sold them “like fish at the palace guardhouse” (Iglesias, Michael and Linda, 8). The old woman further reveals that the “fish” was a delicacy and the guards “bought it for every meal” (8). Therefore, death intervention was a necessary evil to the young woman because she stopped selling snakes. The act inspired the black servant to strike and strip the old woman robbing her of her robe despite the cold.
In the event of death, a trail of human anguish, torment and desperation ensues. Constant and perpetual deaths results into social decay, ruin and migration. As a result, grotesque, ugly and petrifying scenes occasion every corner. Thieves compete with wild animals and scavengers for structures and corpses to feed. Above all, human’s humane sense disappears and selfishness settles all as a result of death.
Boer, Jelle, and Donald Theodore Sanders. Volcanoes in human history: the far-reaching effects of major eruptions. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002. Print.
Iglesias, Luis A., Michael Mays, and Linda M. Pierce Allen. Global crossroads: a world literature reader. Revised edition ed. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press, 2008. Print.