The Self-hatred of Kochan in Confessions of a Mask
In his semi-autobiographical novel, Confessions of a Mask, Yukio Mishima examines the struggle for acceptance by a man living outside of the socially accepted norms. A motif that strongly pervades this novel is death and the images of blood associated with it. Kochan, a Japanese adolescent living in post-war Japan, struggles with his homosexuality and his desire to be "normal." In order to survive, he must hide behind a mask of propriety.
At a young age, Kochan shows signs of being attracted to male beauty. His earliest memory is of a young night-soil man "with handsome ruddy cheeks and shining eyes" (8). Initially, his attraction to men is confused with a desire to be like them. Referring to the young night-soil man, Kochan remembers thinking, "I want to change into him. I want to be him" (9). However, as his life continues to take its course, he slowly realizes that his admiration for other men is actually love.
When he first begins to appreciate male beauty, he develops an affinity for blood and death. This association may have been made subconsciously, acknowledging the negative portrayal of homosexuality in his society. He is often drawn to scenes from picture books, fairy tales, and Grecian art, which bind gruesome images with male figures. One such picture shows a knight mounting a white horse and brandishing his sword, surely facing death. He reveals his "abnormal" physical attractions even further when he states, "Although as a child I read every fairy story I could get my hands on, I never liked the princesses. I was fond only of the princes. I was all the fonder of princes murdered or princes fated to death. I was completely in love with any youth who was killed" (20). Not only does Kochan collect these pictures, but he also modifies the less violent ones to appetize his sensual desires to the fullest.
Kochan’s favorite picture is a reproduction of Guido Reni’s "St. Sebastian." This picture later influences the nature of his daydreams. It depicts an almost completely naked youth tied to a tree with his...