Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

In Rynosuke Akutagawa’s story “Rashmon,” there is a wealth of animal imagery, including a cricket, fox, crow, dog, cat, lizard, monkey, snake, fish, chicken, and bird of prey. What do these animals symbolize in the story?

What is the significance of the “red, festering pimple” on the servant’s cheek in “Rashmon”?

In “Rashmon,” Akutagawa seems to support the notion that survival takes precedence over honor. Do you agree or disagree with this point of view?

In the story “In a Grove,” what crimes were truly committed, what were the motivations for the crimes, and who is/are the primary suspect(s) for each crime?

The individuals who give testimony in “In a Grove” often contradict one another. Compare their accounts, set up a timetable of events, and discuss the inconsistencies.

Why do you think Akutagawa structured “In a Grove” as a series of verbal statements? Why did he select the particular individuals to give testimony?

From their portrayals as characters in “Rashmon” and “In a Grove,” extrapolate Akutagawa’s attitude toward women.