Samurai live and die by their duty and their code of honor, by the promises they make and their ability to stand by them.
When we first meet them in Seven Samurai, they seem to have fallen down on the job: declining to die when their lord did the way their duty dictates. They agree to help the farmers as a way of fulfilling their duty again. And for comparative newcomers like Katsushiro and Kikuchiyo, it's a chance to learn what real duty is, how to fulfill it, and the kind of price you might pay along the way. (Kikuchiyo dies and Katsushiro has to watch his lady love walk away from him forever.) Duty hurts, boys. You'd best understand that before you sign up for this little shindig.
Questions About Duty
- Do the peasants have a duty too? What is it and how do they fulfill it?
- What do the samurai hope to gain by fulfilling their duty here? What will it bring them that money or glory can't?
- Why do the samurai agree to help the village, besides the prospect of saving the peasants' lives?
- What are the samurais' duties to each other? How do we see that reflected in the film?
Chew on This
Duty carries no meaning in a world as bleak as this one. The only thing that matters is survival.
Duty helps the samurai and the peasants focus on what they need to do, preventing them from fighting among themselves.