Disrespect in The Sailor who Fell From Grace with the Sea and Wonderful Fool
Throughout various works of world literature, respect is a major concern amongst the characters. This manifests itself in how the relationships between characters in the work are characterized. Sometimes lack of proper respect can be an auxiliary cause for conflict, while in other cases it can be the root of it. In Japanese culture, respect is considered very important in the relationships between different people; for example, it is customary to bow to one's elders and respect those of superior knowledge and ability. Failure to show such respect is taken offensively and considered extremely disrespectful. This important concept of disrespect is quite prevalent in both The Sailor who Fell From Grace with the Sea and Wonderful Fool, where the relationship characterization of the two main characters reflect this idea through the conflicts. In the former, Ryuji shows disrespect by patronizing Noboru, which causes conflict; in the latter, Gaston's lack of response to the gangster Endo's disrespect is an auxiliary cause to the main conflict between them.
In Yukio Mishima's The Sailor who Fell From Grace with the Sea, Noboru has a very high opinion of his intellectual acumen. "At thirteen, Noboru was convinced of his own genius (each of the others in the gang felt the same way) . . ." (Mishima 8). Noboru, along with the other members of his gang, view themselves to be mature and intelligent. They believe that societal hierarchy restricts their intellect. They feel it to be their "special privilege" and that "[the gang members] are the ones who do the permitting . Teachers, schools, fathers, society - we permit all those garbage heaps." (Mishima 161). Noboru looks up to the chief and derives his opinions from the chief's philosophies; because the chief instills in him the idea that he is mature and intelligent, Noboru will take offense when anyone fails to recognize his intellectual abilities and maturity, disrespect intended or not.
Contradicting these philosophies is the character of Gaston Bonaparte in Shusaku Endo's Wonderful Fool. Gaston realizes that "I'm a fool ... a weakling!" and that his mental capacities are somewhat limited (Endo 179). He is not offended when he is patronized; rather he is quite accustomed to it. He is described as ". . . a coward, a simpleton, who had gone from one failure to the next. . . . From the time he was a child Gaston too had always been laughed at and made fun of by his brothers and friends" (Endo 73). His friends also nicknamed him 'poplar', because "In Gaston's native region of Savoy, large men who are thought to be somewhat simple are called poplars. . . . the wood of the poplar tree is not good for anything but matchsticks." (Endo 73). Gaston, since his friends and loved ones mocked his stupidity and ridiculed him throughout his childhood and adolescence because of...