During “the barbarous days, … the custom of abandoning old people to die was not uncommon” (Basho 1). Like this, the farmer, the protagonist of the short story, gets an order from the leader of the Shining Province to execute all the aged people. In the short story “The Aged Mother,” Matsuo Basho creates a dynamic character who changes his opinions about the elderly because of the wisdom of the farmer’s mother that was saved with love.
At the exposition of the story, the prejudiced leader starts out thinking all aged people are not needed in the Shining province. According to the text, the governor of the Shining Province “[gave] strict orders to immediately put to death all aged people” (Basho 1). This demonstrates his thought that all aged are not desirable in the province. He did not feel the importance of the aged since he was afraid of people who were “suggestive of failing health and strength” (Basho 1). However, in the resolution of the story, the wisdom of the mother that was kept by her son’s love changed the governor into an open-minded leader of the Shining Province. The leader realized that Shining needs the wisdom of the aged as well as the strength of the youth. Finally, the leader realized and said, “‘the well-known saying, ‘with the crown of snow, there cometh wisdom!’” (Basho 2). He understood, from the rope of ashes made from the idea of the farmer’s mother, that the insights of the aged are often needed for the province to be well governed. Nobody in the province knew how to provide the leader with a rope of ashes, but only the farmer’s mother was able to make a rope of ashes with a twisted straw.
Matsuo Basho merges the theme of “The Aged Mother” throughout the course of the story. By having the son save his mother from death with love, and by his mother saving the province with her wisdom, the author constructs a theme that is very clear: the intelligence of all people should be kept with love. With the change of the opinions of the leader, it showed the readers how valuable all people’s knowledge is.
This theme could be related to Vincent Van Gogh, the famous painter’s tragedy. Van Gogh led the development of post-impressionism in the world of art. However, his arts were not welcomed by the people during the 1880s and often were rejected. Even though his paintings became famous after the death of Vincent Van Gogh, his paintings did not receive the spotlight from the people of his time. This was because of the static point of view of the people. If the people at that time were dynamic about the attitude towards the style of art like the leader of “The Aged Mother”, would Van Gogh’s paintings have received an abundant amount of welcome when he was alive?