Bradbury Daily: “The Scythe”

This one’s a bit unusual. I’m not really sure how to talk about it without giving away important details, but the gist of it is that a man and his family come across a farm. The owner is dead, and has willed the property and the responsibilities to he who should come across his body. So they bury the man and move in and live happily for a time, the man, Drew, wielding the former owner’s scythe to cut the mysterious wheat.

What it comes down to is a very unique take on the concept of the Grim Reaper.

That’s about all I can say without spoiling the rest of the story, but it’s very well written. Neither predictable nor terribly surprising, just an entertaining, and chilling, tale.

What really sets it apart from other depictions of the Reaper is the humanity of it all. Because typically you think of a skeletal figure in a hooded robe, cutting down victims mercilessly. You never think of someone or something with actual emotions, someone that cares and feels while doing this terrible, necessary job.

Of course, in a way, the story is also a meditation on the eventuality of death, the fact that it comes for everyone, and it must come for everyone. There is no escaping it, no cheating and living forever. You live, and you die, and you accept that others will die, and that’s just how life works.

Bradbury, it seems, is a bit morbid. Maybe the fact that the story was clearly written at some point after the end of World War II means that he was considering his own mortality, but honestly, this is a really common thread in his stories. I suppose it bears research, at some point. Did he fear death? Was he fascinated by it? What gives?

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