For Thursday's discussion post, I read a fairy tale I've never read before called "The Voice of Death". I think the macabre title attracted me to reading it (I almost went for the Princess one!) but I'm glad I read this as it's really an interesting little story. You can read it here if you are interested, but I'm going to summarize it below.
A man is intent on never dying and so goes on a journey to find a place where the people never die. He finds a village and they tell him that no one ever dies, but their population is not overrun because sometimes someone calls for them and that person never returns. The man ridicules these people who leave because they will eventually die, but the man is happy to move to the village himself. So he takes his wife and children with him and they live happily for several years. One night though, his wife hears someone calling for her and she wants to run out. The man tries to keep her inside, but she is desperate to go so he lets her. Many more years pass, and the man is called himself while getting a shave at the barber's. The man yells and threatens the person who is calling him, but no one else in the shop can see this person. The man gets up and runs after the person intending to chase him away, but instead falls to his death just outside of town into a ravine. The next day the ravine is gone and the people realize what's been happening and from then on they die just as everyone does.
The ending was a bit of a twist for me, since while reading this story, I expected that the "call" everyone was getting was really death, but I did not know that this particular village was really getting visited by the person of Death to lure them away. It's interesting that because they did not know they were dying, that they did not die in the usual way. Sort of on par with human hubris though - to imagine that we can really change the natural order of things and even alter death by our knowledge. Which is of course what the man in the story does in his attempt to find a way to live forever.
That fear of death is integral to the story though - perhaps not knowing what it is makes it easier to bear, as is the idea of death being just a different place that you go to. With the ending, this story strips away any comforting thoughts though, so I'm not really sure what the take home message of the tale is. To face the truth? That's the best that I can come up with! If anyone has any more ideas, I'd welcome more thoughts in the comments!