THE STORY OF THE AGED MOTHER
A Japanese Folklore
“Mother knows best.”
A mother’s love is priceless and can never be compared to other things that a child could have. Through experiences she gained wisdom and out of it she will always guide her loved ones and give them the best of her soft heart.
The story of the Aged Mother is a folklore from Japan, it tells a story about the care and wisdom of a mother to his son, their situation and the son’s love and tender reverence. The story took place at Shinano, in the foot of a mountain where the mother and her son who is the protagonist, lived. The mother was already old and widowed while his son was a poor farmer. The son was a reflection of a very good child having a very loving mother. The antagonist in the story was the ruler who boasted his power and ordered unreasonable things. The conflicts were divided into separate related parts resulting to an episodic plot. It started from the first part of the story when the antagonist ordered to kill the elderly. It is a man vs. man conflict as seen throughout the story where the tension lies between the son and the ruler.
The ruler ordered to kill all the aged people in the province. The son loved his mother so much and so upon hearing the proclamation he was filled with sorrow and hopeless sighs. He doesn’t want his mother to die in the hands of the bad guys and so though it was very painful for him, he had to carry his mother to the mountain called the mountain of the “Abandoning of the Aged” and leave her there. The trail to the mountain was steep and puzzling. They reached the summit and there they bid farewell. The mother warned his son about the dangers in going down and said that he should follow the path were he can see piles of twigs to avoid being lost.
“Let not thine eyes be blind, my son… The mountain road is full of danger. Look carefully and follow the path which holds the piles of twigs. They will guide thee to the familiar way farther down”—- These were the lines that were delivered by the aged mother to her son. These only show the perfect love of the mother.
But the son did not abandon his mother; he cried and carried her mother again. He hid his mother in beneath the kitchen floor, a closet inside their house. After some days, the ruler through his heralds announced to the people that his subjected people should present him a rope of ashes. No one could really make a rope of ashes and in great stress the son told his mother about it and the mother was able to come up with an idea. She told her son to make a rope of twisted straw and stretched it upon a row of flat stones and burn it on a windless night. In this part of the story the wisdom of the mother was shown. The protagonist managed to made one and so the ruler was impressed. Because of what the son did, the ruler changed his mind and from that time he knew the importance of the elders in the society, leaving the saying, “With the crown of snow, there comes wisdom!”
Mainly the theme of the story evolves in two subjects; the love of family member to each one specially the mother’s love and the wisdom that she has gain through decades of experiences. Realism was used as a literary trend because characters are real people and the setting is familiar and current. It contains a lesson and the language used was not too deep to understand.
In the first part of the story the strong and unconditional love of a mother was reflected and the son’s concern to her as a mother. That though they are incomplete and they faced hardships in life, still they managed to support each other and stay together.
In the latter part of the story when they made a rope of ashes, wisdom and obedience were manifested. The wisdom of the mother, of being able to think and come up with an idea and the obedience of the son. It covers the fact that elders have experienced a lot of things and they gained wisdom as the result of learning simply stating that they can be one of the richest sources of advice and lessons in life. Then leaving a benchmark that they should not be disregarded. It was because of the wisdom of the mother that saved her son and the people, truly saying that as we grow old and as our hair whitened, wisdom comes along—“With the crown of snow, comes wisdom.”