In the short story, “The Other side of the Hedge” by E.M. Forster, he depicts a man’s struggle toward an ultimate goal of heaven, with the hedge representing his passage to the afterlife, and the use of water to symbolize his purification; therefore, his brother helps him enter a state of happiness, so he can accept his own death. His journey into the afterlife is difficult due to his unwillingness to give up his need for competition. Moreover, symbolic metaphors, such as the hedge and water, introduce the man to his new life where his self-realization contradicts his new environment. Nevertheless, with the help of his brother, he notices that the road straight ahead has no ending and that all things reach an ultimate end, death. From this he realizes death doesn’t necessarily lead to the end of his life, but the start of a new beginning.
The main character’s desire for competition enables him to continue the journey, without the realization of its outcome. The figure in the story persistently tries to find the end of the road by never giving up. I found it difficult walking for I was always trying to out-distance my companion, and there was no advantage in doing this if the place led nowhere. Is said by the man when he comprehends where the road eventually leads to and understands that the road has no exit. All the man believes is that there is a presence of fate, he must reach, regardless of the circumstances. This inner competition within himself drives him to achieve his goal of happiness, unaware that the trip he is taking leads to death.
The title of this story “Dead Mans Path” foreshadows the series of events about to take place in the story. “Dead Mans Path” does not only refer to the ancestral pathway but also refers to Obis choice of action. His “path” by not compromising has made him a “Dead Man”. Dead in this context is not death, but is referring to his failure. His dream ...
E.M. Forster’s symbolic metaphor contradicts the man’s journey into the afterlife. The most significant symbols used throughout the tale are the brown-crackling hedge and the water from the moat. Forster writes, “dusty under foot, with brown cracking hedges on either side as far as the eye could reach.” Represents the transition from life on earth to the afterlife. “Suddenly cold water closed round my head, and I seemed sinking down forever. I had fallen out the hedge into a deep pool.” Describes the character being baptized into a new environment. This cleansing of his body and soul enables him to continue his difficult journey, enabling him to come to terms with his surroundings and finally meet his brother.
Along the man’s journey his brother helps him provide guidance in realizing his main goal of achieving happiness. Forster writes, “The man whose beer I had stolen lowered me down gently to sleep off its effects, and, as he did so, I saw that he was my brother.” (Forster, 1947, pg. 365) In the start of the tale, the character was too hardheaded; thinking his brother wasn’t very wise by helping others along the road. During the journey, he opens his mind to understand why his brother helps others along his path; “It is my great happiness to help someone out of the moat, as I helped you.” (Forster, 1947, pg. 363) The older man knows that assisting others to succeed provides a far greater reward than fulfilling selfish desires. Nevertheless, at the end of the story, he realizes that his brother helped him achieve the gift of happiness, his ultimate goal.
Sometimes the people you leave behind are the ones that will not hesitate to help you in the end. In the story, the unexpected friend helping out the man was actually his brother. Forster uses the hedge and water to illustrate the start of a new beginning. Thus, not until the complete submergence of the afterlife was the man able to attain total happiness.