He-y, Come On Ou-t!

by Shinichi Hoshi

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What is the theme of "He-y Come On Ou-t!" by Shinichi Hoshi and what is the author's purpose for writing the story?  

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One could argue that the theme of the story is the perennial one of man's destruction of his natural environment. Instead of protecting the large hole, treating it as a precious natural phenomenon, the people in this throwaway society see it as nothing more than a giant dumpster. Before long, the hole is being used as a depository for all kinds of junk: nuclear waste, corpses, classified secrets, and lots of other stuff that people want to hide.

The hole could've been put to so many other, more environmentally-friendly, uses. Instead, people saw it as nothing more than a giant landfill. To be sure, a beautiful city soon grows up around the hole, but it's been built on foundations of sand, so to speak. It only exists because of the many ecological horrors committed in the years since the hole was discovered.

The overriding message of the story seems to be that, no matter how hard we try to avoid the consequences of our actions, our destruction of the environment will always come back to haunt us. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but definitely at some not-too-distant point in the future, as the workman sitting on top of the skyscraper at the end of the story discovers.

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The theme of Shinichi Hoshi's short science fiction story "He-y Come On Ou-t" is certainly an ecological warning against pollution and the careless discarding of our trash. In the story, a bottomless hole is discovered in a town. After scientists and other researchers cannot ascertain why and how there appears to be no bottom of the hole, a man offers to buy the hole and then promptly begins discarding all manner of hazardous and dangerous waste down the hole. Everyone else thoughtlessly follows suit. As years go on, a grand city is built around the dumping ground that is the mysterious hole. One day, as a worker sits upon a scaffolding, he hears someone call out, "he-y come on ou-t!" and a pebble falls upon his head from the sky, foreshadowing the pollution and hazardous waste that is about to be released upon the city and the people who so carelessly threw out their trash. Our thoughtless pollution has serious consequences and this story is warning us that unless we fundamentally change our ways, ecological disaster will be the only result, no matter how much we choose to ignore it.

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The above answer is absolutely accurate, but the story can also be connected to a broader theme beyond the ecological message. While many people do use the hole to get rid of trash that will significantly damage the environment (such as nuclear waste and chemicals), other people use it to get rid of things they simply do not want to think about, see, or have others see or know about. For example, the government uses the hole to get rid of "unnecessary classified documents," women use it to get rid of mementos of previous lovers, and criminals use it to get rid of evidence.

This connects the idea articulated above, that people have polluted without thinking about the environment, with a greater message: we prefer to do things in general without thinking about or acknowledging the consequences. Once we have done something, we want to be "rid" of it. Even if it was something we wanted to hold on to, such as a love letter, once we "move on" from it, we want it out of sight— not only for ourselves, but also so others do not see the parts of our past we don't want in the open. The hole speaks to the human desire to bury the past, and that doing so is ultimately impossible.

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There is a strong ecological message in this story. The people disregard the environment and think that they have found an easy solution for all of the harmful chemicals they have created and all the dangerous waste they have generated. However, it turns out that their thoughtlessness for the well being of the earth is going to revisit them as their waste rains down on their heads. The author wants the reader to think about our actions as we quickly pollute and damage our environment. A few decades ago, people just dumped trash into the ocean because they couldn't see the damage it would do in the water, and just wanted to get rid of it. It seemed like an easy solution then, just throw it in and it disappears. Throughout history we've just dumped our waste in places and watched it disappear, but it never just "disappears." It always comes back to affect us in some detrimental way, whether it kills off species of animals or pollutes our water or depletes our ozone. This story illustrates the very thing that we do, we dump our problems and hope that they'll disappear. No one wants to think about it, but Hoshi's story reminds us that we can't hide our mistakes so easily, because it will come back to us somehow. 

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