Where the Sidewalk Ends (Original Script)

Theme: Musical, Drama

Part 1 – Bumpy Beginnings

Part 2 – Blind Corner

Part 3 – Concrete


  • Annabelle – leading female role, has singing parts. A 30-year old single woman in her 1st trimester of pregnancy with an unknown man who fathers her baby.
  • Rob – supporting male role, has singing parts. A simple, dorky man who helps the other characters in the story.
  • Ed – leading male role, has singing and dancing parts. A high school student with an attachment to his questionable girlfriend due to parental issues at home.
  • Rob’s Mother
  • Annabelle’s boss (could be a guy or a girl)
  • Mel – Annabelle’s female friend
  • Security guard
  • Ed’s Mother
  • Ed’s father
  • Kevin – Ed’s friend
  • John – Ed’s friend
  • Extras, dancers, and other performers

Part 1 Bumpy Beginnings

Scene 1: Bus Stop, street

<Musical number: Hold on by SBTRKT. Performed by Rob and extras. A montage of consecutive days expressing how Rob is a regular guy that goes unnoticed by the people around him, that he is just another face in a sea of people in this world. Extras are blind-folded to express their animosity. Annabelle is the only one not blindfolded but performs like the extras>

After musical number, Rob resumes to stand by the bus stop sign.

Enter Annabelle.

Annabelle stands by the bus stop where Rob is, looking anxious. Her phone rings.

Annabelle: Oh, my God! Totoo ba ‘to? Thank you! Thank you! Yes, I’ll see you next week. Thanks, Doc!

Phone call ends. Annabelle suddenly hugs Rob. Note that Rob doesn’t know who Annabelle is, so he is taken by surprise.

Annabelle: Grabe, finally. Di ako makapaniwala! Ikaw ba? *does not wait for Rob to answer* Ako, hindi! *laughs and starts to get teary-eyed*

Rob: *Looks at Annabelle with uncertainty* Uhm, congratulations? *half-laughs* Sorry. I’m Rob. *extends his hand to shake Annabelles*

Annabelle: Ay, sorry. Sorry. *steps back and shakes Robs hand* Hi. Annabelle. Pasensya na. Mukha akong tanga.

Rob: It’s okay!

Rob and Annabelle sit down on the bench. Annabelle rummages through her bag to get a bottle of vitamins. She drinks a pill with a bottle of water she was carrying with her. Rob doesn’t notice her actions much and while she’s taking her pills, Rob speaks.

Rob: Whatever’s going on with you, I’m genuinely happy for you. *smiles*

Annabelle: *sighs happily* This is one of the greatest moments of my life. *short pause, Annabelles cheery mood fades away noticeably* Well, I have to go.

Annabelle abruptly stands up. She walks away then stops.

Annabelle: Thanks, Rob. Bye.

Exit Annabelle.

End Scene.

Scene 2: Annabelle’s Office

Annabelle sits in front of her computer, not focusing on work. Hands frozen at the keyboard, she stares blankly at the monitor.

Enter Annabelle’s boss.

Her boss passes by and notices Annabelle’s distraught condition. The boss eyes her haughtily and comes back to tap Annabelle’s shoulder. Annabelle snaps out of her trance.

Annabelle: Wha-? Oh, sorry. *starts typing and focuses on her job*  

Boss: *in a warning tone* You’ve been out of sorts lately, Annabelle. Pull yourself together.

Boss exits stage.

Enter Security guard.

Security Guard: Ma’am Annabelle! Ma’am Annabelle! May naghahanap po sa inyo. Pamangkin nyo ata.

Annabelle: *looking very confused* Ano? Wala akong pamangkin.

Security Guard: Hinahanap po kayo eh. Ayaw umalis. Papa-akyatin ko ba?

Annabelle: Wag! Wag mong paakyatin.

Security Guard: Eh Ma’am, nagmamapilit eh!

Annabelle: *looking really angry* Aba, kuya! Sino bang susundin mo? Ako o yung taong yun?

Security Guard: Eh, ma’am akala ko naman kasi relative nyo.

Annabelle: *shouting* At ang sabi ko ay wala akong pamangkin!! Are you calling me a liar? And bobo mo rin ‘no? Kaya siguro hanggang security guard lang kaya mong gawin. And even that, you can’t do right! Paalisin mo na nga yun!

Enter Annabelle’s boss.

Boss: *in a serious tone* Ms.  Sison! To my office, NOW.

Annabelle follows boss out of the stage. Security guard pokes his tongue out at Annabelle’s back.

Security guard: Buti nga.

End Scene.

Scene 3: Living room, Annabelle’s house

Annabelle sits on her couch. She takes another pill from her bottle of vitamins. A knock comes at her door. Annabelle stands up and opens the door only to be greeted by her friend, Mel. Annabelle welcomes Mel inside. Mel sits down on the couch while Annabelle stands.

Mel: So, girl. What is it? Ano ang pinunta ko dito? What’s your exciting news?

Annabelle: *happy and excited* Oh, Mel. I’m pregnant! *laughs then sits down to grab hold of Mel’s hands* Buntis ako. *smiles widely*

Mel: *with a display of shock and confusion on her face, like she doesn’t know how to react. Short pause then flatly says* Ano?

Annabelle: *Shakes Mel by grabbing hold of both shoulders* Mel, I. AM. PREGNANT.

Mel: Girl! Paano yun nangyari?

Annabelle: Oh, just be happy for me.

Mel: Who’s the guy?

Annabelle: *ignores Mel’s question* I mean, finally! Right? I’m 30 years old. It’s about time.

Mel: Dear, gets ko naman yun. Alam kong matagal mo ng gusto magka-pamilya and that you’re scared of growing old alone. *Jokingly says* I mean, it’s everyone’s deepest fear di ba? Dadating rin ang araw na magkaka-wringles ka at magsa-sag na boobs mo.

Annabelle and Mel laughs out loud and playfully pushes Mel back.

Annabelle: Oh my God, Mel! I can’t believe you just said that.

Mel: Well, it’s true! God knows that’s my biggest fear.

Annabelle: *giddy* Excited na ‘ko!

Mel: However, the question remains. Who’s the guy, Annabelle?

Annabelle: Ehhh, an old friend. You don’t know him.

Mel: Tapos?

Annabelle: Well. He makes, I mean, he MADE me feel young. He was exciting to be with. Medyo immature nga lang. Maybe that’s why we didn’t work out.

Mel: So you’re telling me na you guys aren’t together?

Annabelle: *struggling to look like she’s not lying* Uhmm, ayaw nyang suportahan yung baby. *suddenly cheers up* But, that’s okay! I’m well off rin naman ‘no. I can certainly support this baby on my own! I mean, seriously. There’s so many single parents out there. And for my age? It’s no issue. I NEED this baby, Mel. Feeling ko this will make me complete.

Mel: Eh, how about this mystery guy.

Annabelle: Just drop it, Mel.

Mel: Anna-

Annabelle: *angrily* I SAID DROP IT.

Mel: *surprised that Annabelle’s reaction* What the hell, Anna?

Annabelle stands up.

Annabelle: Nangungulit ka masyado! You know better than anyone else kung ano na pinagdaanan ko pagdating sa pag-ibig! Mel, you were there when every single guy happened since college. Niloko lang nila ako. SO, PLEASE. This is just another guy. Drop the topic.

Mel also stands up.

Mel: Oo nga! I was there! Buti naalala mo! I was there for you no matter what happened. Tapos this big of a happening na nangyayari sa buhay mo, ‘di mo pa kayang i-share sakin? We went through everything together! And here I thought na I earned your trust. I earned that trust. Tapos pagtataguan mo ko ng ganitong kalaking sikreto? Nice, Anna.

Mel starts to walk out of Annabelle’s living room.

Annabelle: Wait, it’s not like that.

Mel: Goodluck na lang sayo.

Mel slams the door shut exits the stage. Annabelle starts to cry.

End Scene

Scene 4: bus stop, rainy weather

<Musical number: Forgotten by Avril Lavigne. Performed by Annabelle. Annabelle enters the stage crying. She grasps the pole of the bus stop sign and starts singing. With choreography, a string of male dancers pass her around throughout the song, signifying past failed relationships.>

Annabelle continuous to cry when Rob enters the stage. He offers her his coat.

Annabelle: When I look back, pinaglalaruan lang ako ng mga lalaki. Wala na bang matinong guy sa mundo ngayon? I’m close to losing faith in the male species. They may be nice to you, pero in the end it’s all because they want something in return. Usually sex and money, sometimes even both. Grabe!

Rob: Hey, I’m not gonna lie. Maraming gago sa mundong ito. ‘Di rin ako nagmamalinis. I know I’ve done mistakes in my life.

Annabelle: Buti ka pa nga, aminado.

Rob: Pero people change, Annabelle. They do.

Annabelle: No, they don’t. *long pause* I’m pregnant.

Rob stays silent.

Annabelle: Uhmm, *long pause* he doesn’t want anything to do with it.

Annabelle starts crying. Rob comforts her.

Annabelle: I’m lost! ‘Di ko na talaga alam kung anu gagawin ko. Kung ano mangyayari sakin. *cries on Rob’s shoulder*

Rob: Hey, hey, hey. Don’t worry. *looks at Annabelle pitifully* What can I do? Uhmm, pwede kita samahan kita sa mga check-ups mo.

Annabelle starts crying more loudly.

Rob: You got yourself a friend.

End Scene.

Part 2 Blind Corner

Scene 1: Bus stop

Ed is sitting on the bench, leaving a voice mail with the use of his cellphone.

Ed: Hey, I know this is the nth time. Pero please call me back. I miss you, bye.

<Musical number:Drive By by Train. Performed by Ed. He’s on the phone trying to call his girlfriend. The phone is still on his ear while singing. A group of background dancers enter mid-song. The choreography utilizes a cellphone as a prop>

Ed still has the phone on his ear as he leaves a message on the voice mail.

Ed: Babe, call me back. Please. Di ko alam kung bakit ka nagkakaganito. Magparamdam ka naman oh, please. Love you, bye.

As soon as Ed hangs up, his phone rings.

Ed: Babe?

(Voice-over) On the other line: Anong babe!? Leche ‘tong batang to. Hoy, nanay mo ‘to! Eh kung umuwi ka na kaya! Aba, walang maglalabas ng basura, anu ka.

Ed: *shocked* Nay! *sounding flat* Sorry po.

Ed’s mother: Wala akong panahon sa sorry mo. Umuwi ka na! 15 years old ka pa lang, eh gala ka na ah.

Ed: Opo, pauwi na po.

End scene.

Scene 2: Ed’s house, living room.

Ed stands by the door when he overhears his parents quarrelling. He stops to listen.

Mom: Napakamanhid mo talaga! Anu? Sinu na naman babae mo?

Dad: Ang kulit mo talaga!! Wala akong babae! Pero siguro mas ok kung maghanap na nga ako, eh ‘no? Para magkatotoo na lahat ng mga ina-assume mo sakin. Sawang-sawa na talaga ako sa mga dakdak mo! Nakakarindi!

Mom: Edi maghanap ka! Kawawa naman sila para makakuha nang lalaking tulad mo! Ngayon pa nga, nagsisisi na ‘ko eh!

Dad: Eh, mas lalo na ako! Grabe! Bakit pa kita pinakasalan?!

Mom: Alam mo, gabi-gabi ko ring tinatanong yan sa sarili ko! ‘Di na ‘ko magugulat kung lumaki si Ed na tulad mong babaerong manhid, na walang pake-alam sa kanyang asawa!!

Ed’s dad advances toward Ed’s mom angrily, and is in mid-action from slapping her when Ed bursts in the living room, stopping his dad from slapping his mom.

Ed: Tama na!

Ed walks towards the opposite side of the stage when he stops to look back at his parents.

Ed: Bakit ba kayo ganyan? Bakit ‘di na lang ako nagkaroon ng matinong mga magulang?

Eds dad: Naku Ed, walang wala ka sa lugar magreklamo. Anung tingin mo sa sarili mo?

Eds mom: Hoy, di kita pinalaking bastos!

Ed: Eh ma, hindi nyo naman talaga ako pinalaki ng maayos in the first place!

Ed’s dad motions toward Ed, to the point where they’re face to face.

Eds dad: Sumosobra ka na ah!

Ed’s dad pushes Ed. In defence, Ed pushes his dad, punches him on the face then pushes him to the floor. Ed stands stunned with what he did. Ed steps back a few paces from his parents.

Ed: *in a pained expression, near tears and in a small voice* What did I do to deserve parents like you?

Ed exits the stage. Ed’s mom and dad start to walk away from each other.

<Musical number: Cold Blooded by The Pretty Reckless. A duet. Performed by Eds mother and father. While singing, they distinctly show their hate towards each other>

End Scene.

Scene 3: Bus Stop

Ed stands by the bench with his friend John in their uniforms. They start talking about video games. Extras at the background walk back and forth across the stage to signify a busy late afternoon on the streets.

John: Pare! Lumabas na ata yung latest Call of Duty ah!

Ed: Eh! Call of Duty? Dude, you should try Portal. Mahirap sya pero ang galing! Talagang gagamitim mo yung kokorte mo. *He and John both laughs*

John: Dude, alam mo yung mindfuck talaga? Amnesia, Bro! Nababakla ako sa takot pag nilalaro ko yun. I swear, nagkaka-trauma!

Ed’s phone starts to ring. When he sees who’s calling, he suddenly freaks out and shakes John’s shoulder.

Ed: Dude! Dude! It’s her! It’s her!

Ed picks up the phone.

Ed: Babe, hello babe? Wait ‘di kita marinig.

Ed starts to cross the street when suddenly a car comes out of nowhere and almost hits him. However, Rob, who seemingly was among the extras at the background jumps in and pushes Ed to safety. However, the car hits him instead. There is no need for an actual vehicle prop to be used in this scene. Sound effects and a blinding flash of light can signify the car hitting Rob, and when Rob hits the ground, all the lights go out.

End Scene.

Part 3 Concrete

Scene 1: Rob’s Funeral

<Musical number: Ghosts That We Knew by Mumford and Sons. While the funeral scene takes place in the background at mute, a number of pair of dancers moves in front and around the scene. No character is to sing the song. The choreography is solemn, bordering contemporary/interpretative/jazz dance>

Annabelle sits among the crowd wearing a black veil to hide her face. She has a slight bump on her belly to signify her pregnancy. No one in the audience should see her. Rob’s mom stands behind the podium.

Rob’s mom: He was such a kind man. His death was too early. It’s unnatural for a child to die first before his parents. Rob wanted a simple life: to have a family to come home to and to have a simple job where he earns enough to support his loved ones. He didn’t feel the need to be rich. He was never greedy. *pauses to blow on her napkin and wipe a few tears* I loved him.

Ed enters the scene very awkwardly. Rob’s mom motions to take a seat among the people grieving at the funeral. Ed approaches the podium beside the casket.

Ed: *takes a deep breath before he proceeds to talk* I didn’t know this man. Never ko syang nakita sa buong buhay ko. Wala akong kaalam-alam tungkol sa kanya. I don’t what his job was, if he had any children, if he had a wife, or how he took his coffee. I don’t know his favourite color. I don’t know who his friends are. I don’t even know his age. *pause* But, I owe him my life. Kung ‘di dahil sa kanya, wala ako ngayon. Kung ‘di dahil sa kanya, I would have been dead by now. Dahil sa kanya… *stares in shock when he sees Annabelle among the crowd* Annabelle?

Annabelle stands up and walks away from the scene. Ed abruptly follows her.

Scene 2:

Only a portion of the stage is in spotlight while the next scene (where the funeral scene was) is being set. This is the continuation from when Annabelle and Ed walked out of Rob’s wake.

Ed: Anna!

Annabelle: Haven’t you done enough?!

Ed: What are you talking about?

Annabelle: Kasalanan mo ‘to! Kasalanan mo lahat ito!! I lost Rob because of you!

Ed: Seryoso ka bang sinisisi mo ‘ko? Di ko pinilit si Rob na iligtas ako sa gagong lasenggo na muntik nakong sagasaan!

Annabelle: Eh kung lumingon ka sana bago ka tumawid, diba? None of this would have happened!

Ed: Annabelle! *sounding tired and frustrated at the same time* Na-excite ako nun kasi tumawag ka. ‘Di ko namalayan yung kotse.

Annabelle: *surprised* What? *sounding defensive* I lost a really good friend. He was the only one there for me, Ed! Sya lang! When I found out I was pregnant…

Ed: Pregnant?! *glances at Annabelle’s tummy* Since when?

Annabelle: It’s none of your business!

Ed: Sino?!

Annabelle: *sounding panicky and with hesitation* It’s Rob’s! Kay Rob yung bata! Si Rob yung ama. *looking frustrated* Kasalanan mo lahat ito!

Annabelle hurriedly exits the stage. Ed stands frozen in shock of the news. He walks towards the center of the stage.

<Musical number: Sensible Heart by City and Colour. Performed by Ed. He stands at the centre of the stage with a spotlight on him. He walks around. The song is almost a monologue of what he’s feeling.>

End scene

Scene 3: Campus Grounds

Ed and two of his buddy named John sit at the edge of the stage, goofing around, and telling jokes. Extras in the background are students who walk by to give the atmosphere of a student-populated area in Ed’s school. Another friend named Kevin walks in and sits with them.

Kevin: What’s up, brothas?

Ed: Uy!

John: Pare! Kamusta?

Kevin: I’m good! I’m good! Galing akong classroom. Grabe! Ang hot ni Claire! Damn! Super Hawt!

John: Oy, oy, oy! Mag-ingat ka daw dun! Matinik daw yung si Claire.

All of them laugh.

John: Pare, *taps Kevin’s shoulder* what’s this?

John makes a hand gesture.

Kevin: Fish!

John: Eh eto?

John makes another hand gesture.

Kevin and Ed: Anu yan?

John: Edi, fish ball!

All three boys laugh out loud.

John: Ang corny. That reminds me! Ang sarap nung ulam naming kagabi. Sinigang na Salmon!

Kevin: Wow ah! Salmon talaga ah!

Ed: Gago, nakikain ako sa inyo kagabi. Tilapia lang yun.

John: Ed!

Ed: Bull shit ka talaga!

Kevin: *laughs* Poorita!

The boys continue to fool around when a group of girls walk by. Kevin approaches one of them.

Kevin: Miss, nakatira ka ba sa sinehan?

Girl: Huh? Bakit?

Kevin: Kasi ikaw ang “next attraction” ng buhay ko.

John and Ed holler and cheer Kevin on then starts laughing. Some of the girls found the pick-up line funny and laughs as well. However, the girl who Kevin told the pick-up line to and the others made haughty expressions. The group of girls started walking away.

Ed: *laughing* Fail ka talaga forever!

Kevin: At least I tried. Ikaw nga, hanggang Facebook lang. Yes, chuma-chat box! *laughs*

Ed: Weh!

John: Oy! Nakita nyo ba yung kumalat na post kagabi?

Ed: San, sa Facebook?

John: Oo! May magshota kasing 17 year old at 19 year old. Eh ayun, may nangyari. Eh sa galit nung parents nung girl, kinasuhan nila yung guy ng rape!

Ed: *suddenly sits straight* Seryoso?

John: Ewan! You know naman the internet.

Kevin: Hahaha! Syempre alam ni John yan! Hanggang madaling araw online pa yan, eh.

Ed: *monotone* Oh. Dalawa lang ibig sabihin nyan.

Kevin: Either nagsa-Skyrim yan or… Nagloload ng videos! *laughs* Alam na!

Kevin laughs aloud while John teasingly punches them and pushes them around. Ed however looks out of sorts and doesn’t join in the fun.

End Scene

Scene 4: Bus stop, nighttime

Ed is sitting on the bench alone. He looks troubled. Annabelle enters the stage. She approaches Ed. Ed looks surprised to see her. Annabelle is now on her 2nd trimester of pregnancy. Her belly is noticeably bigger than the last time she and Ed last saw each other. Ed starts to stand up to greet Annabelle, but she motions him to sit down.

After a few moments, Ed speaks.

Ed: Alam mo, I had to lie to see you. I had to lie to my parents. Nagpanggap pa nga akong pamangkin mo just to see you. *sighs* *long pause* Did you love him?

Annabelle: *half laughs* Don’t be ridiculous, Ed. I didn’t know him long enough to fall in love him. But he was dear to me.

Annabelle pulls out her bottle of vitamins and drinks a pill.

Annabelle: Before he died, he was the most supportive friend I had. He even accompanied me to check-ups and bought me books about motherhood.

Ed: Why do you sound like na it’s not his job to accompany you in the first place. Hello. Siya yung tatay.

Annabelle: Ed. *faces Ed then looks at him* I’m so sorry.

Annabelle looks like she’s about to cry.

Annabelle: I’m so sorry, Ed.

Ed: Anna… *long pause* ako ba yung tatay?

Annabelle: I can’t have you involved.

Ed suddenly stands up in anger.

Ed: How could you? Why did you lie to me?

Annabelle also stands up and reaches to hold Ed’s shoulder, but Ed suddenly starts to pace frantically.

Annabelle: Ed, please understand. You’re not ready for this.

Ed: How can you be so sure? Anna, I won’t be like my parents! *pause* I can stop! Titigil ako sa pag-aaral. I’ll get a job! Bubuhayin ko kayo. We’ll move to the province! We’ll buy a lot. We’ll build a house! *pause* Anna, we can be a family.

Annabelle: Ed…

Ed hugs Annabelle. Annabelle hugs him back.

Ed: *while still hugging Annabelle* Please.

Annabelle: Yes.

Ed hugs Annabelle tighter and starts smiling.

Annabelle: *in a whisper* No. *in a louder voice* No, Ed.

Annabelle lets go of Ed.

Annabelle: Did you just hear yourself? Ed, be practical! Education is important. And what can you accomplish being a high school drop-out? Huh? I’m fine on my own. May trabaho ako. And what about your parents? What do you think will happen to me when they find out? Pwede nila akong kasuhan. Ano nang mangyayari samin ni baby then? *touches her belly*

Annabelle paces away from Ed and starts crying again. Ed stands frozen in his place. Annabelle calms down and composes herself.

Annabelle: Right now, I can’t have you in my life. The time will come when we can meet again and you’ll have a chance to make it up to our baby.

Annabelle comes up to hug Ed, but Ed doesn’t return it.

Annabelle: Until then… this is where the sidewalk ends.

Exit Annabelle.

End Scene.


Threesome presents: Crossroads


A two-play production by Animo Teatro:

“Where the Sidewalk Ends” playwright by yours truly


“The Three Rats” playwright by Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero


April 4, 2013 – 2:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

April 5, 2013 – 6:00 p.m.

At the DLSU-STC Auditorium, 5th floor

Ticket price: php 50.00 to STC students and php 70.00 to outsiders


This is the outcome of a script writing contest held last term (2nd term, AY 2012-2013) by Animo Teatro, a recognized school organization of my school. When I saw this poster, my heart skipped a beat. This is the realization of a story I made up, a fictitious tale concocted by my mind. This is the realization of something I wrote on a piece of paper, then typed, then submitted as merely an entry to this contest, not at all expecting to win it. It brought me both excitement and fear.

Excitement. This script was something I worked very hard on. I had multiple sleepless nights just thinking on how the dialogue should flow, how I can make the transitions seamless, and what I want this play to say to its audience. I was excited to as to who will bring my characters to life. I was excited to be a part of something that hopefully would influence the people in some way; may it be a jolt of emotion, an answer to their question, or just pure entertainment.

Fear. The fear of being criticized. The fear of being judged. I don’t know how people will take the story. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they get the message? Even though sir Micko Yabut did some major revisions on the script (given that I never had a major role in any musical production) and God knows I need his help, revision and guidance, the essence and the story is still there. I would like to take this opportunity to say that if the audience identified any event in the play remotely close to my personal life, please bear in mind that the play is FICTIONAL. I made it all up. It came from my imagination. Don’t assume that the scenes in the play occurred in my real life. They didn’t. Some may have been inspired by some events, but this not an account or a re-telling of them.

This play is not just my play. Firstly, I made this play with my best friend, Li Badar. She is the musical arranger. She looked for the perfect songs that suited the message of that certain scene. She was my critic when it came to the story and the dialogue. She accompanied me during those late nights. Our friendship grew because of this script. Secondly, this is also Animo Teatro’s play. Without them giving me this opportunity, I wouldn’t be part of this year’s Threesome. Moreover, they are the heart and the limbs of this play. It is them who will bring my script to life. Lastly, this play is for those who can relate with the characters. If you see a portion of yourself from the character or see an aspect of your life in this production, then you’ve given my work true meaning. This play is for you.

Just to clarify a few things, the annual Threesome play usually showcases a “three-story-in-one” type of deal. However, this year’s Threesome is basically made up of two. Both stories, however, have THREE major characters. That is why it is still a Threesome production.

Literary commentary – The Spider’s Thread by Akutagawa Ryunosuke

I believe that the theme of the story is how desparation can compel a man to do certain acts of evil. I came to this conclusion through the events that had taken place in the climax of the plot where Kandata selfishly demanded the other sinners in hell to get off the delicate spider’s thread in fear of it breaking and therefore losing his chance of reaching paradise (which he did). Though the other possible themes here could have been are that “selfishness won’t get you anywhere” and the karmic rule “what goes around, comes around,” I don’t see its relevance if, for example, the spider’s thread were deemed unbreakable. It was mentioned that hundreds, even thousands were already climbing it. Also, the story said that it only broke when Kandata turned hostile and wanted the thread all to himself, assuming that by then the other sinners were already on the thread with him. If Kandata was aware of the thread being strong enough to hold him and thousands more, then would he have still commanded the others to get off it?

The concern upon the language of the story not only resides on the faithfulness of the translation of the story from Japanese to English, but also on the author’s emphasis on how hell is a truly terrible place. He used locations like “Mountain of Needles”, “River of Death”, and “Lake of Blood” to really paint a picture on the reader’s mind. I believe the author’s intent is to really encourage the reader to strive more into being a moral person and not end up in hell and experience the various torments Kandata and the other sinners had to endure.

The structure of the story was a division of three, unevenly long, chapters. The division is in line with the shift in setting because all the events that occurred in chapter one took place in paradise, then in hell in chapter two, and finally back to paradise in chapter three where the story ends. This technique is in partnership with the style used at which the story was told through the third person’s point of view without the intimate details of what goes on inside the characters’ mind. Referring to chapter three, first paragraph, last sentence, where the author wrote the phrase “he must have been,” suggests that the latter part of that sentence is just what Buddha was probably thinking. The shift in setting is for the reader to experience both Buddha and Kandata’s realm and role. I also noted how the events in the story took place from morning until noon only. Upon my interpretation, this indicates that it only takes a fraction of a day until a man commits an act of sin, no matter how big or small it is.

The story had allusions to several religions, namely Buddhism, Christianity, and even Hinduism. The referent of Buddhism is of course one of the two main characters: Buddha; Christianity through the setting used in the story: Heaven (paradise) and Hell; and Hinduism through the karmic nature of Kandata having a shot at paradise because he didn’t kill a spider while he was still alive. Most religions aim to guide the ordinary person to be the best he can be when it comes to morality. The referrence to all these religions suggest that the story’s goal is to strongly impose a lesson on morality.

While Kandata’s life was telescoped among all the other sinners, I believe that Buddha’ role in the story is not only to represent Buddhism, but also represent a group of people residing in paradise. This certain group was not mentioned in the story, so it’s a common assumption to readers that Buddha was alone in paradise, which I believe to be false. According to history, Buddha is said to have reached enlightenment while living. It is safe to say that he embodies goodness. But instead of being reincarnated, a Hindu belief, he was placed in paradise/heaven. This is not the belief deemed true in the real world, thus suggesting that those other mortals who supposedly reached enlightenmen or were good in the duration of their earthly lives go to heaven when they die in the story. Note that this is a Christian belief now mixed in. “Man is incapable of change, therefore mankind is doomed to reside in hell after death,” another theme that can be drawn from the story is, then, invalid.

The title of the story directs our attention towards the spider’s thread. The story is suggestive of irony. We all know that a spider uses its thread to make a web for capturing other insects for its food. It also uses its thread as a weapon to wrap and immobilize bigger insects that pose as threats. In contrast to its violent and deadly purpose, it was used as an instrument for Kandata to escape the torments of hell, giving it a positive twist. In addition, the spider mentioned in the story may have no significant importance except to inject this irony. Kandata was already characterised as a murdered, so this cancels out or contradicts with him sparing the life of a mere spider. The insect the author could have used was a silk worm, or any other insect that produces thread-like substancesm but the importance of irony is vital thus using a spider’s thread. Why s irony vital? Irony is relevant to this effect and the theme of the story.

The story ends in the third chapter where the setting is back in paradise with Buddha just witnessing the event that have occurred in hell. The tone of the ending suggests a feel of indifference. Paradise is not affected with the events that occur in hell (or even in earth, for that matter).

After reading the story the first time, I was left with mix emotions and the theme of how lack of compassion can lead to such terrible outcomes. But after re-reading and gaining a more sophisticated understanding of the story, I therefore changed my theme. It is safe to say that most people want security, both during their earthly and lives after, but it should not compromise our morality for it might be the very reason why we don’t achieve that security or (in Kandata’s situation) a paradise away from a life of torure and suffering. The process defeats the outcome. That’s the irony implied by the spider’s thread. Going back to the theme, if only Kandata didn’t compromise his morality by being selfish, he would have reached paradise instead of plunging back down to hell.