The Motif Of Blades Essay

1408 words - 6 pages

Many authors use symbolism to convey messages about society as a whole. One particular symbol which is trans-cultural and appears in much of literature is that of the blade. The blade in many cases embodies masculinity, honor, and courage. In the two stories “In a Grove” and Chronicle of a Death Foretold the authors use the motif of the blade to convey similar messages about the societies in which they take place. Both authors Akutagawa and Marquez use the motif to give an insight into views of honor and masculinity in the societies of Japan and Latin-American countries, respectively.
Akutagawa is famous for his use of symbolism and aspects of modernism in order to convey a hidden truth about human nature in society. To put it simply, his story, “In a Grove,” is a tale about a murder. However, underlying throughout the story are themes of deception and honor. The murder victim, a trained samurai is lured into a grove and killed, and the suspects are his wife, the robber, and himself. Rather than plead innocent, each suspect pleads guilty to preserve their honors. The blade is a recurring symbol in this story and shows the preservation of this honor. On page 25 the robber, Tajomaru, claims that he “didn't like to resort to unfair means to kill” the samurai, Takehiko. Instead, he claims that he offered to cross swords with him, and then killed him after twenty-three strokes. In this way the sword represents a means to accomplish an act of honor. To murder the samurai without a fight would be dishonorable, but by using the sword Tajomaru achieves honor. Furthermore, Takehiko goes on to claims, You, you don't use your swords. You kill people with your power, with your money,” (Akutagawa 20). Takehiko makes the accusation that the Judges do not kill people with honor, but rather dishonorably under the guise of power. Another example of the symbol of the blade symbolizing honor is seen in the testimony of the victim himself, the samurai Takehiko. He states, “I raised my exhausted body from the root of the cedar. In front of me there was shining the small sword which my wife had dropped. I took it up and stabbed it into my breast,” (Akutagawa 29). In Japan to kill oneself with a sword is seen as respected ritual of honor called seppuku. Takehiko took his own life rather than live knowing that his wife betrayed him. In this way the symbol of the blade is used once again to illustrate the preservation of honor.
In Chronicle of a Death Foretold honor is one of the largest themes throughout the book. Much like in “In a Grove” Marquez uses the symbol of the blade to enforce the theme of defending honor. In the story Angela Vicario is dishonored after she is found out to have lost her virginity to Santiago Nasar. Her brothers attempt to reclaim this honor through killing Santiago. It is no surprise that the weapon of choice for the murder is none other than a blade.“So he put the knife in his hand and dragged him off almost by force in search of their...

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