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Numb An Analysis On The Effects Of War On The Japanese Spirit

1039 words - 4 pages

NUMBJapan's 1931 invasion of Manchuria sparked the beginning of a war that would ultimately touch the entire world. The war in Asia and the Pacific took away the lives of many and caused great amounts of destruction as the Japanese empire slowly engulfed the entire Eastern and South Eastern regions. However, the devastation of the war were not only felt by those in the colonized lands, but also especially by those in the home front. The effects of the war have left the Japanese people numb and have shut off their empathy and, thus, their humanity. This unfortunate consequence is evident in numerous relationships between the Japanese people, ranging from those with the "enemy," the former soldiers, and other fellow civilians.The "Enemy"The aftermath of the war had numbed the Japanese people. In the short story, Blind Chinese Soldiers, author Hirabayashi Taiko makes use of the treatment of colonized captives to highlight the beginning of Japan's decrease in empathy. The blind Chinese soldiers, presumably prisoners of war, were treated callously; almost like cattle rather than people, which also stresses the military's deadened sense of morality. To them, the prisoners were a means to a poison gas experiment, but rather than feeling for the lives of the prisoners, they were more concerned with contamination of the motherland. To the Japanese civilians on the train platform, the prisoners of war were like animals at the zoo meant to be gawked at - shocking and unexpected at first, curious at second glace, and then easy to forget about after the next minute. According to the narrator, "the Japanese were too involved in their own affairs to be moved by such an incident." (44) While hostility against the enemy is expected on the battlefield, the treatment of the prisoners on home ground by both the military and the civilians cheapens the life of the Chinese soldiers to that of an animal; one not worthy of any real concern or value.In addition to the direct contact between the characters in the story, Taiko makes use of the release of the last train car to symbolically suggest to loss of empathetic feeling in Japan. The end car which had once been "occupied by the Chinese had been taken away" thus making the narrator's car the last of the train. To eliminate the prisoner's car was unquestioned by other passengers, and even went unnoticed. The Japanese were happy to disregard the hardships of others, even if it meant their death, if it meant they could continue to fixate on their own.The Former SoldierFor the Japanese, the real damage of the war is in the hearts of the people. Fukimo Hayashi, in Late Chrysanthemum, utilizes the Japanese soldier to draw attention to the desperation and insane hopelessness that comes from war. In the story, Tabe, a former soldier turned struggling business man, reaches out to his past geisha lover, Kin, for financial aid, only to be met with disappointment. It is evident throughout the story that the war had weighed down on...

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