Cremation As A Theme In On Of George Bernard Shaw's Books

699 words - 3 pages

In a written exerpt from a letter about the cremation of his mother, GeorgeBernard Shaw recalls her "passage" with humor and understanding. The dark humorassociated with the horrid details of disposing of his mother's physical body are eventuallyreconciled with an understanding that her spirit lives on. He imagines how she would findhumor in the bizarre event of her own cremation. The quality of humor unites Shaw andhis mother in a bond that transcends the event of death and helps Shaw understand thather spirit will never die. The reader is also released from the horror of facing themechanics of the cremation process when "Mama's" own comments lead us to understandthat her personality and spirit will live on.Shaw's diction is effective in conveying his mood and dramatizing the process ofcremation. The traditional words of a burial service "ashes to ashes, dust to dust" are notaltered for the cremation, the interior chamber "looked cool, clean, and sunny" as by agraveside, and the coffin was presented "feet first" as in a ground burial. In selectingaspects of a traditional burial service, Shaw's mood is revealed as ambivalent towardcremation by imposing recalled fragments of ground burial for contrast. Strangelyfascinated, he begins to wonder exactly what happens when one is cremated. This moodof awe is dramatized as he encounters several doors to observe in his chronologicalinvestigation. He sees "a door opened in the wall," and follows the coffin as it "passed outthrough it and vanished as it closed," but this is not "the door of the furnace." He findsthe coffin "opposite another door, a real unmistakable furnace door," but as the coffinbecame engulfed in flame, "the door fell" and the mystery only continues an hour later ashe gazes "through an opening in the floor." As he observes two "cooks" picking through"Mama's dainty little heap of ashes and samples of bone" the mood of dark humor is theonly way he can handle the horror of his mother's death and cremated body. He hasremained an unemotional observer on a journey through the crematorium with humor asthe buffer between reporting the event and expressing raw emotion....

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