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The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea By Yukio Mishima

1465 words - 6 pages

In every direction the sea rages and growls, tumbling its inhabitants in an ever-lasting rumble. Glory, honor, and duty are washed upon the glimmering golden shores of the Japanese empire. The sturdy land-dwellers clasp hands with those thrown into the savage arms of the ocean. This junction of disparate milieus forms the basis of an interlocking relationship that ties conflicting elements and motifs to paint a coherent, lucid final picture. In The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea, Yukio Mishima incorporates the impact of contradictory settings of land and sea, combative ideologies of the Western and Eastern hemispheres, and inherent dissimilarities amongst the characters’ ...view middle of the document...

He becomes dissatisfied with the sailor lifestyle, and gravitates more and more towards the possibility of living life on land. However, Ryuji’s “only memories of life on shore were of poverty and sickness and death” and “of endless devastation” proving his mindset to leave the land lifestyle as he “detached himself from the land forever” (Mishima 40,41). Additionally, constant symbols include Ryuji’s reminisces of ports he had once visited along with the omnipresent horn of a ship that depicts his doubtful mindset in his transition and pull towards a more stable life on land, with anchored emotional ties to humans. The intersection between land and sea, and their emerging symbolism, become solidified with the port setting and ensuing plot elements of Yokohama.
Moreover, Yukio Mishima contrasts current and future Japan via the characters Ryuji Tsukazaki and Fusako Kuroda. Mishima’s viewpoint on post-World War II Japan is prominent in the novel, with his obvious desire and willingness to revive imperial Japan, along with a strong opposition to westernization. The setting depicts a period of turmoil for Japan as “late in the war his [Ryuji’s] home had been destroyed in an air raid” (Mishima 40), with Japan facing vast shortages of necessities such food and housing. As the war progressed “even the minimum food ration could not be distributed regularly, and malnutrition became a serious problem” (Kiple). In time, the poor country was forced to suffer a loss of their personal cultural identity as their weaponry and military lifestyles were abolished with the termination point of the war. Mishima’s allegorical novel describes his painstaking efforts to emphasize the drift from traditional Japan to Westernization after World War II
Noboru possesses elements of conflicting modern and Japanese cultures, as his academic pursuits are similar to intellectuals of the western hemisphere; his gang is filled to the brim with “smallish, delicate boys and excellent students” of whom “most of their teachers lavished praise” (Mishima 49). On the other hand, savage actions of this gang illustrates a group that idolizes samurais’ values and revolts against the current society at the time. The unwarranted murder of an innocent kitten and the following graphic description develops the impact that Mishima wished for this scene: exaggerated violence, ironically against the ethos of the traditional and ancient samurai Bushido Code which teaches that “men should behave according to an absolute moral standard” (McKay). There is a slight inference of Mishima scolding imperial Japan through this obvious hypocritical aspect of the traditional gang, however he seems to still not be actively able to adopt the ideology of the western societies.
The contemporary representation of Fusako differentiates her character from Noboru, as she is a materialistic manager of a Western store that sells antique and imported goods. Fusako Kuroda has a desire for economic growth and development...

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