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The Other Side of the Hedge

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The Other Side of the Hedge

After reading, The Other Side of the Hedge, by E. M. Forster, I got the feeling that this story was about a man walking down the long road of life and passing to experience what was life after death. The narrator's choice to go through the hedge changes the story into an allegory that is full of symbols demonstrating Forster's view of the journey of life. The author develops the story through different symbols including the long road, the hedge and the water.
The story is about a man's life journey. In the beginning we see this man in a competing mode, he is running his life and competing against everyone around him. In this fable the narrator states, “At first I Thought I was going to be like my brother, whom I had to leave by the roadside a year or two round the corner. He had wasted his breath on singing, and his strength on helping others (Crane, 38).” He believed he had lived his life better than his brother, and that his decisions were wiser, therefore he had a more satisfying way of looking back. Abandoning the journey on the road symbolizes death because the people in the story who abandon their journey never return. In the story, the narrator travels on a long, dusty road that seems to have no end. He tells about the other people of the road, discussing the possessions that they wanted to carry with them. Some of these people gave up on their journey, leaving their properties behind collecting dust. Forster's intensions seem to be to show us the transition from life on earth to life in heaven.
On the other hand, most symbols Forster uses within the story represent life. One key symbol that Forster mentions a number of times is the long dusty road. The endless road represents the long and challenging journey of life. The people in the story must travel on the road even though it never ends and leads them nowhere. At first, they carry as many possessions with them as possible, but in the end they leave them behind; as his journey becomes more difficult we start seeing a change in his attitude. The narrator says, “The road behind was strewn with the things we had all dropped; and the white dust was settling down on them, so that already they looked no better than stones (Crane, 39).” Eventually, he realizes how insignificant his possessions are, and how heavy they seem to be getting, he starts losing the strength to carry them with him and that the journey will be easier without them. This is similar to real life, because the people with fewer possessions often live happier, simpler lives than those who own many things.
Another significant symbol he uses in this story is the hedge. The narrator uses the hedge to symbolize the border that passes from life to death. In the story the narrator says, “A little puff of air revived me. It seemed to come from the hedge; and, when I opened my eyes, there was a glint of light through the tangle of boughs and dead leaves (Crane 39).” The narrator's spree through the hedge is a cleaning of all his possessions that he does not need in order to pass thru the other side. He describes the hedge to have thorns that scratched his face and his arms as he used them as shields to protect him, he tells us how everything he carried was scraped of him and his clothes were torn, but he was so wedged up that it was impossible for him to go back. To me this represents the challenges we face in our lives; not everything is easy and there will always be a difficult path ahead of us. It will be our own choice to decide if we want to push ahead to find what is on the other side awaiting for us, even if it means leaving everything we know behind and trying to start a new life.
Once he passed through the hedge, the narrator immediately falls into water. The narrator states, “Suddenly cold water closed down my head, and I seemed sinking down for ever. I had fallen out of the hedge into a deep pool. I rose to surface at last, crying for help (Crane 39).” At this moment he has passed to the other side, the water represented his new and clean beginning, all his impurities were gone and he was ready to embark his new journey. His body is no longer covered with dust from his journey on the road. He has moved on to a different stage in life, where there is no turning back. He was rescued by a man who seemed to be 60 years old but his voice was one of 18 years old. When he asked his rescuer where did that place lead to, his answer was, nowhere, thank the lord! I believe this meant that he was finally at a place where time did not matter. A place where distance was infinite and where there was no worries anymore. He was in heaven, and the moment he realized he was dead, was when he recognized his rescuer to be his brother.
In conclusion E.M. Forster's use of symbolism in The Other Side of the Hedge represents his belief that the journey toward heaven is easier when one is a humble person and does not get attached to the materialistic world that we live in. A person that has fewer belongings and does good things for others will live a better and more satisfying life. When the main character drifts from the road, he starts a symbolic journey into heaven. The hedge strips him of his valuable goods and the water cleanses him preparing him for the new life to come.…...

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