The Importance of Living While Dying

Derek Walcott embodies a number of themes throughout this brief, yet stimulating one act play. Poverty, death, and work are a few major themes reveal how the characters try to make a living in the midst of dying. Walcott highlights the significance of death and life through such themes by revealing how these elements contribute to the characters’ decisions and means of survival.  In keeping in context with the play’s plot, Walcott uses the sea, the most discussed element to reveal the significance of life while in the midst of death through the constant conversations and reminders about those who have died.

In keeping in context with the play’s plot, Walcott uses the sea, the most discussed element to reveal the importance of life while in the midst of the death through the constant reminders of death. All the characters keep the traumas of the sea in mind when they are making decisions to continue life or create work from the sea.The death of those whom they love drives them to search for those who are capable of working the sea. ” Afa and Augustin, two characters stress the importance of work on the sea by reminding the old man, Hounakin, that there has been many who have been lost to the sea. Therefore, the sea is no place for him. ” Tell me again, old man, why for you want to work the sea? And you so old? You never stay in your house and hear wind breaking wood trees? You never go down on your two knees and thank the Virgin you never work this sea by Maingot side? Where is Habal, Raphael, Annelles, Boileau? Sun breaking papa, talk fast” ( Walcott,1084).  Walcott uses both characters to highlight the severity of the commitment that he wants to make by working on the sea.

Hounakins’ current state of poverty fuels his desperation to work the sea which reveals the importance of living while dying. Although Hounakin is old, his drive to work the sea is intertwined with the fact that he is poor and needs to provide for he and his dog. Again, death has a strong hold on Hounakin as he has lost his wife due to his impoverished condition.  Walcott’s character Hounakin says ” When Rama dying she did want more medicine, You know we could not beg, but then I beg, for one whole year, then she catch sick again. And Rama says no medicine we must not beg. I did not want to beg and Rama die. The first time I did beg you was last night. To work. I cannot beg or bend down to make garden, I know I have friend, but friend and pride and different… Is just a work to feed a old man and the dog” ( 1086). Walcott underscores the connection between work and death in order for the character to live although he is dying. The old man acknowledges that he can beg his friends for assistance, but, his pride disallows him from doing so. Therefore, he does the thing which he knows how to do, work.

In this brief, yet thought provoking play, Walcott shows how all of these elements interconnect to form decisions that are crucial for survival. Hounakin, the old man, Afa, and Augustin all reveal in a similiar, yet different way how important and crucial it is to live while dying.




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