He-y, Come On Ou-t!

by Shinichi Hoshi

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How is the hole used in the story?

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The short story "He-y, come on ou-t!" describes a Japanese village where a very deep hole appears after a typhoon. The hole seems to be bottomless. The villagers therefore allow waste of all kinds to be thrown into it (including nuclear waste and diseased corpses), reasoning that these items will be buried so deep that no negative effects will be felt on the surface.

The hole in this story represents the Earth. The villagers agree to throw harmful waste into the hole even though they do not fully understand the potential future consequences because the hole is so deep that they will not have to face those consequences for a long time. The mayor abdicates responsibility for regulating what is thrown into the hole, instead allowing a concessionaire to use the hole as a for-profit dump in exchange for building the village a shrine and meeting hall. The villagers also turn a blind eye to the misuse of the hole because the dumping operation brings wealth to the village.

Similarly, humans pollute the Earth in hundreds of ways large and small because the short-term profit or convenience of polluting is more tangible than the long-term negative consequences. Governments underregulate commercial operations that pollute the water and air because there is political and financial profit to be derived from encouraging these activities, and individuals ignore or contribute to pollution for their own private benefit.

In the end, the reader learns that the hole empties onto the village itself—meaning that years of harmful waste will soon be falling on the villagers' heads. The moral, of course, is that the consequences of our environmentally unfriendly actions cannot be postponed forever. Eventually, just as the hole is "filled" and the waste falls on the villagers, the Earth's natural resources will be depleted, or its water or air will become unusable, and a reckoning will be inevitable.

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