Beyond The Curve Essay, Research Paper
Beyond the Curve, written by Kobo Abe sends a message to his fellow Japanese citizens. He constructs an allegory based on honor, identity, and Dante?s Hell. Abe?s choice of writing allows us to think deeper than the obvious, and ?read between the lines.?
?Dendrocacalia? is written as an allegory. It can be interpreted in relation to World War II. The main character, Common, is representative of ordinary Japanese citizens during the war. He is being punished for actions that he, himself, did not knowingly commit. For his punishment, Common transforms into a tree rooted in the earth. His face slips off, his arms are made into leaves and branches, and his legs become the trunk of the tree. In this illustration, this torment is what many Japanese endured during World War II. Many were harmed during numerous bombings and other wartime casualties. These Japanese citizens were harmed for the actions of the state, not the individual themselves. Each citizen lost part of their honor, as well as their personal dignity during this unsettling time. They were a the mercy of their government and were forced to face the repercussions of governmental actions
In dealing with honor, the concept of suicide is discussed. Throughout the story, Common fights the transformation into a tree on every occasion, except the last. He tries desperately to hold on to his human identity, despite the obvious physical struggles, as well as the personal advice and council from the Director of the Botanical Garden. He wanted to fight his ?death? at all costs. He would not let this unexplainable power defeat him, for if he died at the mercy of another force other than his own, would be dishonorable, as well as sinful.
This concept of suicide is related to Dante?s theory of Hell. Dante?s Hell is a place of fire where people go to purge their sins. The sinners that are placed in hell have no awareness of their sins. Common saw that there was no sin in hell, only punishment. Upon his realization of this, he saw that the only explanation for these strange occurrences in his life were that he had previously committed suicide, without knowing, and was now in Hell and having to suffer for his sins (55). His punishment, turning into a tree, was his retribution for his sins, and therefore created this Inferno for him. The burning and fire would purge his sins, just as it purged the tribe of Zeus. Kobo Abe noted, in Beyond the Curve, ?Transformation into a plant meant avoiding unhappiness, at the cost of future happiness; salvation from sin meant being thrown into the midst of Sin?(58).
The director of the Botanical Garden is representative of a god-like character, or one with the power of ruling. He wants Common to join his garden. This is no ordinary garden; it is a place of protection from the outside world and its cruelties. It is symbolic of a perfect, harmonious place where Common would not have to worry about others ruining or damaging his tree. The assistant to the director acts as a loyal follower. He is like a member of society that is controlled by the government. The assistant acts only when the directory tells him. The director gives him specific directions, and the assistant obeys accordingly.
Common a typical Japanese man, who was forced to pay for sins which he did not knowingly commit. This occurred to many Japanese during World War II. They were forced to endure many horrific tortures, as well as suffer genetic abnormalities caused by the dropping of atomic bombs, for actions that did not directly involve them. They did not order the bombs that were dropped on Pearl Harbor in a surprise attack. Yet, they were forced to deal with its results through the atomic bombs America dropped on them. They were not being individually punished, but punished as a whole. The people did not want to die simply at the hands of the opposition, as long as they saw a chance of survival. Common saw reason to fight for his individualism and identity. He fought the transformations, repeatedly. He did not want to give in to the powers that were in control. The director convinced Common just to give in to the urges and live in the Botanical Garden, free from all problems in a virtual utopia. Eventually, he gave in and decided to live in the Botanical Garden. Once Common allowed the transformation to occur, the director labeled him ?Dendrocacalia crepidifolia?(64). Dendrocacalia crepidifolia is translated into a bad tree with trembling leaves. Common allowed the powers that be exceed him, but he did it with suspicion and restraint.
Kobo Abe wrote this allegory in order to send a message to his fellow Japanese citizens. He wrote it so that we, the readers, would understand the underlying meaning, without saying it bluntly. He utilized many different allusions to express his message.