Death Avenue

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Death Avenue
In Thomas Mann’s short story “The Path To The Cemetery”, there are a few major themes throughout the plot. The story starts off with an elderly man named Piepsam walking along the road to the cemetery, and out of nowhere a young kid on a bike races by. The older man threatens to report this kid for riding on the path and tries to get him off of his bike by grabbing onto the seat. After the kid gets away with a blow to the old man’s chest, Piepsam goes into a blind fury yelling as many obscene phrases as he could bring to mind. As he was trying to break free from the grasp of a man who was confused about the situation his heart gave up and quit on the spot. The theme of this allegory is that people need to seize life and grasp it while they still have a chance, because once let go it does not look back.

This short story is a great example of what happens in our world. So many people live their lives and dwell on a tragedy or grieve the death of a loved one, while they need to break free from those constraints and live every day as if it were their last. In the short story Piepsam tries to slow down and derail the kid on the bicycle, “At a run he traversed the short distance which separated him from the machine, and seized the tool-case beneath the saddle.” (159) This is a poor attempt to take back hold of life because the drunken old man is really only fighting himself. When he realizes that his addiction to poison is ruining his life, it will already be too late and he will have reached the end of the path to the cemetery.

Secondly, the engine driving life has a huge amount of momentum and is extremely hard to stop. For example, “Again it merely thrust down one foot, sat securely in the saddle, and had the machine once more under full control. Piepsam saw its back diminish more and more rapidly.” (159) This shows how tough it really is to get back onto track when you are a drunken fool who has given up on hope. With a mere pedal or...
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