One of the key elements of the novel Pale Horse, Pale Rider is the mention of time. Throughout the novel, Miranda constantly convinces herself that she has “no time” and that “time seemed to proceed with more than usual eccentricity.” This is understandable since the horrible condition of the war and her disease allows Miranda with no option but to see her death as imminent. Yet when reading the story, I could not help myself consider the reverse: if we know death is imminent, would we also insistently think that we never have no time?
This question seems to invite us to discuss the common fear of death that every human being has certainly felt at some point in their lives. Much of this fear seems to stem from the unpredictability of the death’s arrival. Often we say that if we were to know when we will die, we would make the most of our time. Yet the reality probably says otherwise, we will probably end up being like Miranda. Instead of enjoying the present moment of being with our loved ones, we would instead be consumed by our worries just like how Miranda constantly drifts in and out of her consciousness to the exclusion of everything and everyone else. Hence quite paradoxically, the idea of us not knowing our death seems to be a good thing as it makes us appreciate every single second that we have.
Yet here is the punch: Miranda frequently tells herself that “something strange is going to happen” that when terrible things like Adam’s death and her illness really happen, the whole story looks more like a self-fulfilling prophecy. The irony behind the last line “now there would be time for everything,” troubles the audience’s mind. The question of whether Miranda is alive or a living dead even after she survives the war and her disease can never cease to tickle me personally as a reader. Again, I could not help myself question: if there was anything, could we actually prepare for our death? It seems like with all the foreshadowing preceding the final stage, Miranda still cannot really seem to prepare herself for when she encounters death, much less for when she finally escapes it and is confronted with the truth that she is alive, but Adam is not. If we were told that we will die in the next couple of decades, what would we really do? Would we be the kind, helping individual that we pledge to be, or would we be the greedy person who would want to indulge in as much merriment as possible?
Perhaps think about this way: you know the deadline of your assignment is in two days, would you try to produce the best essay possible by using the two days you have or would you rather procrastinate and complete the assignment in the last minute?