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I am working on a report about the theme of The Scythe. I need some specific details to back up my ideas. Any help would be appreciated. My thought is that the theme is responsibilty goes beyond one's personal needs. Do you think I'm on track? Any suggetions? I really need some help. Thanks.
 
Posts: 1 | Location: Jupiter, FL, USA | Registered: 19 January 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think it mostly about the human and God's will. The man and the fate.
 
Posts: 173 | Location: Russia | Registered: 05 February 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Again, this is one of those Ray Bradbury stories that shouldn't be torn apart by dissectors. It is fully errie, wonderfully strange, potent slice of death and life in the context of mystery. Probably Ray himself wouldn't even know enough of why this particular story was written, and how. Why should the reader....
 
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have an interview with Mr. Bradbury about the story that came on a CD with Dark Carnival. I'll listen to it tonight when I get home and get back to you. From what I remember, Nard sounds right. It's just a story about a guy who inadvertantly takes over the role of Grim Reaper. Very Twilight Zone.
 
Posts: 194 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Although several "Twilight Zone" episodes and certain other stories, including ones both written and collected by Ray, have personified Death as an individual, "The Scythe" is just unique. I've never seen one quite like it before or since.
 
Posts: 7209 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Sorry it took a bit of time to get back to you on this.
Mr. Bradbury said the story is a double metaphor for the hardworking farmers and for war reaping death and destruction.
He said he saw an old Warner Brothers cartoon that depicted the Grim Reaper and he just took it to the next level.
 
Posts: 194 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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From
Greentown
Illinois

( ) Alright! Did you actually talk to Ray about this? And if so, how long ago?
( ) Did you read this somewhere? If so, where?
( ) Are you making this up?
 
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Nard, I admit to not listening to the CD that came with the Gauntlet Press edition of "Dark Carnival" (guilty, guilty, guilty!) but assume this information comes from his interview there.
 
Posts: 7209 | Location: Dayton, Washington, USA | Registered: 03 December 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The DARK CARNIVAL edition has an introductory paragraph by Ray introducing "The Scythe". Here is what he says:

"It's a double metaphor. It's the automatic metaphor of knowing farmers and seeing them using the scythe on occasion, and then the obvious metaphor you saw in cartoons or war and death. Reaping harvests. I must have seen a cartoon and carried it to the next step." (p. 227)

(Dark Carnival. Ray Bradbury. Gauntlet Publications. Springfield, PA. 2001.)

My own view differs from Nard on this, in reference to dissecting the story. In Ray's introduction to Jerry Weist's "BRADBURY: AN ILLUSTRATED LIFE: A JOURNEY TO FAR METAPHOR" Bradbury speaks with almost annoying repetition about the fact that EVERYTHING he does is in images and metaphors, and even goes so far as to say (at least three times in this intro) that he uses metaphors without even realizing he's doing it.

Given this, it seems that to read ANY Bradbury story or poem WITHOUT looking for metaphors, images, symbols, and other meanings misses a part of what Ray is doing. Sure, he's a great story-teller, and it's fine to read his stories purely for enjoyment. But in his own words, he's been doing images both consciously and unconsciously since he was three.

My own view is that there is much in "The Scythe" that warrants "dissection". This does not necessarily diminish the enjoyment of the story, unless, of course, you don't like dissecting literature.

In this particular case, Ray himself has said the story is metaphor-driven.

Obviously, the scythe represents death, with the power of death being borne by the person wielding the scythe. Death is seen as both a power and a burden. In the end, the burden is too much for Drew and he ends up exploding (killing millions) in a fit of rage and an overriding sense of loss where he has lost all capability of caring about what happens in the world.

The engraving on the scythe, "He who wields me wields the world" supplements the idea that the scythe represents a kind of ultimate power. In the end, Drew exercises this power in a sociopathic destructive rage that goes on and on and on.

The field (echoing Christ's metaphor as the field representing a field that is white and ready for harvest) is the world and each stalk of grain represents a person. When the wheat is cut, the wheat rots, as a person rots in the grave after dying. While the stalks represent individuals (he sees Molly and his kids in individual stalks), they also look like a mass when viewed from a distance. Man has individual existence, but he is often lost in the masses of other individual lives.

The question of fate is a significant part of the story, as well. When he sees the stalks that represent the lives of his family, he refuses to cut the wheat at all, then he only cuts it in a selected way. When he violates what is to be done, he screws up life. When the names of his family members come up, it is their time to die; and by refusing to cut the stalks, he has screwed up fate. Fate is established, but man can screw it up -- but not without consequence! His wife and kids are put into a kind of not-death/not-life position because they were supposed to die the next day, but since he refused to cut their "stalks" they didn't die. But they didn't live either. Is Bradbury arguing we can tempt fate? Or is he arguing that fate wins out in the end, and that we have pre-ordained/established lives we must live out? Or is it just a story?

Drew's choices are limited. When he stops harvesting, he realizes:

"He looked down upon the children. The job had to be done every day and every day with never a stopping but going on, with never a pause, but always the harvesting, forever and forever and forever."

He could refuse to harvest, or he could refuse to do it "correctly", but there would be a price to pay.

Drew understands that he's got to figure this out:

"He had to accept the job with some sort of philosophy. It was simply his way of getting food and housing for his family. They deserved eating and living decent, he thought, after all these years."

When he realizes that he is killing people every time he uses the scythe, he has to come up with a philosophy, a rationale, for doing what he's doing. Even the character understands he is to find some kind of meaning or justification in what he's doing. Is Drew a metaphor for man? That we can't live without defining what is is we're doing here?

The story is ripe with metaphors, images and meaning. As I said, although it can be enjoyed at a purely linguistic level or for the great story it is, there is a lot in this story that warrants study.


[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 01-27-2004).]
 
Posts: 2769 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mr. Dark:

Okay. Dissect this thing, then.

Personally, I don't think you'll come up with anything other than a bunch of facts that have little or nothing to do with the sum effect the story has on the reader...
 
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I did it while you were posting . . .

:-)

See above.

I must note that this is hardly much of an analysis. I would love to have time to rip into this story.



[This message has been edited by Mr. Dark (edited 01-27-2004).]
 
Posts: 2769 | Location: McKinney, Texas | Registered: 11 May 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Mr.Dark:

I think I need a little time to discern your dissection....
 
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Doesn't someone owe From Greentown Illinois an apology?
 
Posts: 333 | Registered: 12 January 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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No apology necessary. Nard and I are old rivals. I only hope his respect for me is as great as mine is for him. You're my main man, Nard.
I did get the information from the interview with Mr. Bradbury on CD (and the intro Mr. Dark mentioned) that came with Dark Carnival (as I stated earlier).
 
Posts: 194 | Location: Worden, Illinois | Registered: 09 June 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks,
From
Greentown
Illinois

...I get a little reckless at times. Appreciate your use of the term old rivals...makes one feel a kindly kinship.
 
Posts: 3954 | Location: South Orange County, CA USA | Registered: 28 June 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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