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The central theme and plot summary of Jose Rivera's play "Tape"


The central theme of Jose Rivera's play "Tape" revolves around morality and consequences. The plot follows a man who is forced to confront and confess his past sins to an enigmatic figure in a room where his misdeeds are recorded on tape. This confrontation compels him to face the moral implications of his actions and the possibility of redemption or damnation.

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What is the central theme of Jose Rivera's short play "Tape" and how is it conveyed?

To a large extent, Tape by Jose Rivera can be seen as an allegory on the afterlife. An unnamed Person sits at a table in a simple room, listening to a recording of all the lies he's told throughout his life. With the Person is an Attendant—also unnamed—who informs the Person that there are no fewer than 10,000 boxes of tape reels. We can infer from this nugget of information that the Person is someone to whom lying came naturally.

The Attendant states that he doesn't want to cause the Person any undue suffering. This would appear to indicate that the Person is neither in Heaven nor Hell, but somewhere inbetween. Before he's sent to either of those places, he's to be judged on how he's lived his life, a life which as we've already seen was full of lies. Essentially, one could argue that the Person is being prepared for the Day of Judgment, when he must stand before God and answer for all his sins. This means that he must face up to all the lies he's told, as lying is traditionally regarded as sinful in the Christian tradition.

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Summarize the plot of Jose Rivera's play "Tape".

The plot of a story is:

...the order of events in a narrative or any other type of story.

This story is a tragedy which is...

...is a form of art based on human suffering...

In Jose Rivera's play entitled, "Tape," we meet two characters. The first is the Person and the second is the Attendant. As we study the plot, we see the development of the Attendant as a character diametrically opposed to the Person.

It appears that the Person has died. We first see him in a room he has just entered that holds a table and chair, with drinking water on the table. The Person is uncomfortable. His comments about the Attendant's concern over poor lighting lets the audience know that he knows he is dead:

I guess, what does it matter now?

The play represents a man's confrontation with the life he led while alive, and the sins he committed in that life. The room represents either Heaven and/or Judgment Day.

We may be able to assume this is not hell, in that the Attendant states:

We don't want to cause you an undue suffering.

The Attendant is kind and supportive, trying to offer what little comfort he can and to answer whatever questions the Person might have. The more conciliatory the Attendant is, the more frustrated the Person becomes. Perhaps his frustration foreshadows what is to follow.

The Attendant clarifies several of the guidelines that control not only his actions but also the Person's actions. For example, the Person is going to be required to listen to tapes. He may use the rewind button so he understands things that may not have recorded clearly, but he may not use the fast forward button. The reason for this is clarified soon enough.

The Attendant finally reveals that the Person will be listening to ten thousand boxes filled with tapes that contain all the lies he told while he was alive. This is mind-numbing to the Person. He apologizes profusely, but of course now it is too late. The amount of tapes tells us that the Person lied a great deal, though we are not sure why. He will be required to listen to every tape, and though we cannot be certain what "stage" of the afterlife this actually is, it is certain that the Person will be listening to his past, reflected in less than "sterling" moments, for a very long time, which would seem a clear form of "suffering."

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