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Asian Plays: The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole

Identify the theme of The Coffin is too big for the Hole. Discuss how the theme is developed in the play. In our daily life, we always encounter some people who are too concern about their title and status. For them, status and own reputation are their priority compared to other things around them. They will try to do something which is different from others in order to make themselves the focuses of the public. Same goes to this play entitled The Coffin is too big for The Hole. The author, Kuo Pao Kun, is showing us the people who want to show off of their power in life and in death as well. The theme is developed well through the characteristics of the characters that found in this play. At the beginning of the play, the readers can observe that the manager was portrayed as a person who stood firm to his principle and treated everyone in the same manner. The managers principle can be sensed when he said to the funeral man that everyone is treated in exactly the same manner and no one could get two plots for a coffin. Thus, the officer-in-charge insisted that one person could only have a plot. When the grandson contended to the manager that the only way out is for you to give us another plot, the manager rejected because that will be running against the national planning. The theme continues to develop when the officer-in-charge gives inconsiderate suggestions to reject the grandson from demanding two plots. The manager tends to humiliate and make fun of the coffin in front of the grandson because the coffin was different compared to others. The manager gave several options for the grandson to look over which are change to a smaller coffin, change to private cemetery or chop off the extra wood on the sides of the coffin and finally remove the body and bury it with wrapped in bamboo sheets. This shows that the manager sarcastically tells the grandson that they were actually trying to show off their power even after the person has died. However, the manager gave in to the request after being threatened by the grandson. The manager got shocked and unsecured when the grandson said that he will get the whole family to camp overnight in the middle of the cemetery
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Asian Plays: The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole

if the manager refused to give him another plot. As the grandson kept firm and stood his ground, the manager had no choice and finally he chose to consult his superior. Therefore, threat of the grandson had made the officer-in-charge to allow this particular case as a very special exception. He also claimed to the funeral man that one man, one grave, one plot! and no such request will be entertained after this case. From the play, we can see that the grandfather of the persona was a very rich man in their town. When his grandfather was alive, he was trying to show off by staying in a big house which have many rooms and can accommodate at least fifty people. His grandfather also hired servants to tidy up their house. From this scenario, we can sense that the grandfather wanted to show off to others that he was very rich and able to stay in a huge house with servants all around. The personas grandfather even wanted to show off of his power after he has died. This can be seen when the grandfather was put in a huge coffin which was different from others and asked his grandchild to make his funeral as grand as possible. We can see that it was such a grand funeral because the coffin was too big until they needed to hire sixteen coolies to carry it from the funeral coach to the grave. Apart from that, the persona did feel that his grandfather was enjoying the honor of getting buried in such a rare, refined, polished, grand and heavy coffin. From this situation, we can feel that the grandfather wanted everyone to know about his death by having huge coffin during the funeral. Besides, the author also created a path that leads to us to the snobbish mindset of the grandfather. In the grandfathers mindset, he felt that he was a high status person and did not satisfied by the things that ordinary people did. For example, everyone was just having a standard coffin for every corpse which was suit in the plot which already standardized, but he insisted to have a huge coffin to indicate he was indifferent from those ordinary people in their country. The decoration of the coffin also showed us how snobbish the grandfather was with the intention of showing off until there was news about the specialness of the coffin.
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Asian Plays: The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole

Other than the two characters mentioned above, the third character grandson, is another character that the author used to develop the theme smoothly. As we can see, the narrator is being portrayed as an arrogant grandson. He felt proud of the burial event because his grandfathers coffin was big and special. He felt pride that people were all came around to have a look at the grand funeral. The grandson also tried to show off his power as a leader of the family when the big coffin could not be got into the hole. This can be clearly seen when the grandson tried hard to argue with the undertaker in order to get the coffin into grave. He would feel embarrassed when he could not solve the problem in front of so the crowd. This shows us that the grandson was concerned about his reputation. Furthermore, the grandson can counted as inconsiderate. He wanted to be unique without caring about the consequences of his words or actions on other people. He kept demanding a big hole for the big coffin although the undertaker said that the wall of the next grave may collapse if they dig it bigger. The inconsideration of the grandson also can be seen when he tries to demand for two slots of grave regardless of the regulation which is one dead is allotted one plot. He could not tolerate with the undertaker although the undertaker mentioned that every grave in the cemetery is in standard size. However, he threatened the manager when his demand was rejected. For example, he threatened the manager that he will get the whole family to camp overnight in the middle of the cemetery if the manager did not give him another plot. This shows that he was inconsiderate and wanted to go against the rules and regulations in the country. Same as the grandfather, the characteristic of snobbish was implant into the grandson by the author. He concerned and wanted to show off about his social status. As a leader of family, he thought that he was more superior compared to other family members and showed off of his power towards the others. For example, he insisted to have two plots as his grandfathers grave because this showed their status as a rich family. He felt excited to have a truly
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Asian Plays: The Coffin Is Too Big For The Hole

grand, solemn, colourful burial in front of the crowd and the presence of the media. This has shown that the grandson is a snob. As a conclusion, the author has successfully developed the theme well by giving certain characteristics to the characters in this play. From every single events, the actions of those characters tell us that once people are in power, they would like to show off no matter he is alive or in death.

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