Marc Noboru represent the inner struggle and

Marc Daniel LuetzMs.FreemanLiterature HL19.1.18Word Count: 398Reflective Statement: The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with The SeaThe interactive oral presentation, on the Yukio Mishima’s Novel The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with The Sea, was an opportunity in which I was able to understand how the context and experiences of the author influenced the novel. Mishima was a Japanese author and nationalist. He was known for his experimental ideas and works which displayed a conflict of modern and traditional aesthetics that focussed on conventional ideas and political change. This is very apparent in his use of symbolism in specific characters alongside events that occurred in the plot. The two ‘primary’ characters of the novel: Ryuji and Noboru represent the inner struggle and identity as an individual. Ryuji is the embodiment of the transition between traditional and contemporary Japan; drifting, not certain how to be or what to do. Noburo is the embodiment of traditional Japan and can be seen as the invoking traditional ideas and beliefs in the westernizing setting. To understand fully how these characters represent Mishima, and the potential inner struggle he was going through it is vital to know and understand that at a young age he was exposed to nationalism and a romanticized concept of the Bushid? code. Which is reflective of the character Noburo: a nihilist, who is centered on the idea of glory and honor. This is a reflection of Mishima’s own beliefs, who as an adult was an active nationalist and founded his militia. In 1970, he and three other members of his militia staged an attempted coup d’état where they seized control of a Japanese military base and failed to inspire a coup to restore the Emperor’s powers. Mishima then committed suicide by seppuku. However, in spite of this, he suffered an internal struggle; he avoided being drafted into the army. Additionally, he was gay; a taboo and looked down upon in Japan which is reflective in the way that Ryuji feels and acts about his search in and of glory and Noboru’s reaction to that.This inner struggle of Mishima is not only embodied by the characters in the text but is a reflection of that in Japanese society. Mishima’s personal experiences play out in depth in the text giving it a very realistic feel, to the extent that it is disturbing as to how some characters think and clash in the text. Thereby giving a unique perspective into post-war Japan regarding ideologies and culture. Marc Daniel LuetzMs.FreemanLiterature HL19.1.18Word Count: 1492How does Mishima use the motif of the Sea to explore the danger of reconciliation between the expectations of traditional codes and the limitations of modern life in Japan?The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, originally published in Japanese in 1963 is a novel written by Yukio Mishima. The book is set in postwar Japan during the 1960s, in a time where Japanese national identity was in transition, a conflict of character between traditional and modern ideas. Mishima uses the motif of the sea as the embodiment of conventional Japanese concept of Honor: a result of the search of attaining glory. Mishima does this by drawing aspects from the Bushido code in his definition of the pursuit of glory leading to the establishment of Honor and prestige of the individual. In traditional Japanese society, the way of the warrior, was the summation with the focus on honor and reputation over all else, leading to the individual to die an ‘honorable’ death, having stayed loyal to their values and beliefs. In modern Japanese society, men are expected to focus on establishing their position in society through their prestige and capability in the world of business. The transition between traditional and modern Japan is one of reconciliation and compromise, as the Bushido code of honor is lost and no longer fits in dictating the life of individuals. Honor and its pursuit of glory are no longer as easy to achieve as they traditionally were, now taking place in an environment with limited opportunities in which to embody them. Mishima’s use of the motif of the Sea as the embodiment of traditional Japanese ideal of honor and glory, thus demonstrating the struggle of the individual in their pursuit of these models in a society in transition. Mishima uses Ryuji as the personification of this conflict through his decisions as a character in his search of honor and glory: as a sailor at sea and his consequential transition to a life on land.In the novel, second mate Ryuji Tsukazaki is a sailor that is engaged in a constant struggle between an erratic life in search of honor and glory and one of stability. To Ryuji, the Sea is the source of his chance at glory. However, at the same time, it is the Sea that causes him to reminiscence about the stability and tranquility of life on land. “Sometimes, as he stood to watch in the middle of the night, he could feel his glory knifing toward him like a shark from some great distance in the darkly heaping sea, see it almost, aglow like the noctiluca that fire the water”(16). The personification of glory as a shark is used to represent the danger of the sea. Emphasized further through the use of specifically chosen diction such as “knifing,” “darkly heaping,” and “fire.” Through the portrayal of the Sea as a perilous and dangerous entity of Mishima demonstrates how Ryuji considers the Sea as a means of gaining glory and adventure. Additionally his use of a juxtaposition in demonstrating glory, which is shown as a small light in comparison to the “darkly heaping sea.” This lends the impression that honor is something that can only be attained at sea and through its dangers.  On the other hand, the sea also reminds Ryuji of what a stable lifestyle consists of; “To a man locked up in a steel ship all the time, the sea is too much like a woman. Things like her lulls and storms, or her caprice, or the beauty of her breast reflecting the setting sun, are all obvious” (34). The personification of the sea as a woman and describing it with female characteristics highlights the fact that Ryuji as a sailor, has had little to no exposure to romance; having had only had ‘artificial’ relationships with women in the past. The sea, thereby being personified with the typical characteristics of a woman, is Mishima tempting Ryuji to return to the stability of land, thus tempting him to leave the glory that can be gained at sea and consequently attainment of honor. Moreover, Mishima uses diction of terms such as “steel ship” and “locked up” to demonstrate how Ryuji is trapped, highlighting his internal struggle between the search for glory and life stability. Disillusionment is dangerous, a sentiment that can bring disaster to even the most dignified individual; the realization that something is not what it was perceived to be, alongside having one’s beliefs challenged leads to disillusionment. This, in turn, can lead to the abnegation of one’s integrity and character. Ryuji’s disappointment occurs as a development of his understanding of the ‘Great Cause’: his realization challenges the pursuit of honor and glory that the  ‘Great Cause’ may not result in the glory that he was in search of in the addition of the solidarity and hardship of its pursuit. “Yet Ryuji knew better than anyone that no Grand Cause was to be found at sea. At sea were only watches linking night and day, prosaic tedium, the wretched circumstances of a prisoner”(60). Mishima uses diction in this quotation, such as “prosaic tedium,” “wretched” and “prisoner” with the specific intent to evoke Ryuji’s frustration and struggle in the individual and spartan nature that the search of glory can be. After more than 20 years out at sea, Ryuji tires of the lifestyle and meets Fusako, who to Ryuji seems to offer an opportunity to seek glory with comfort and peace on land. The temptation embodied by Fusako ultimately leads to Ryuji engaging with her in an intimate act of love, interrupted by a fateful event, “Suddenly the full long wail of a ship’s horn surged through the open window and flooded the dim room a cry of boundless, dark, demanding grief; pitch-black … burdened with all the passions of the tides … the sea was screaming” (62) The personification of the sea “screaming” is deliberately alongside its imagery to paint a specific moment in the text, the Sea’s ‘scream’ is its outrage and anger at Ryuji’s act of love. This foreshadows Ryuji’s the death of his chance of pursuing glory at sea, having betrayed the Sea with his intimate actions with Fusako and causing him to fall from grace with the sea. Thereby putting himself in danger of who and what he is.As the novel progresses into its second part, Ryuji becomes increasingly attached to Fusako. As a result, he ultimately decides to give up his life as a sailor, a deception of his character, as seen through the perspective of Noburo, who’s nihilism acts as an embodiment of the Bushido code. Consequently, as Ryuji falls in love with Fusako, from the standpoint of Noburo, Ryuji has given up the pursuit of achieving glory in life as living as a Sailor, his decision to give up his lifestyle is seen as a betrayal, a shameful deception of his integrity and self and to the Sea. Additionally the fact that Ryuji later becomes Noboru’s father also adds on to this feeling of betrayal since, in Noboru’s mind, a father figure is the worst thing that anyone could be. A direct consequence of which, being the loss of the traits that had made Ryuji honorable, as becoming mentioned as a softer, caring and burdened father figure: “Noboru listened feeling as though he were about to suffocate. Can this man be saying things like that? This splendid hero who once shone so brightly?”(124). Demonstrating the disbelief at the transition that Ryuji has undergone, having the search of glory and attaining honor. Noburo’s nihilistic views cause him to believe that Ryuji must be killed. Noburo then plots to preserve Ryuji’s honor and integrity by giving him an honorable death. In a painful moment of revelation, Mishima uses a flashback to the sea to shatter Ryuji’s hope of ever being able to seize glory on his terms, being forced to accept his fate and death at the hands of Noburo: “I could have been a man sailing away forever. He had been fed up with all of it, glutted, and yet now, slowly, he was awakening again to the immensity of what he had abandoned”(141).Mishima uses the motif of the Sea as the embodiment of traditional Japanese ideal of honor and glory, thus demonstrating the struggle of the individual in their pursuit of these ideals in a society in transition. Mishima utilizes the decisions and lives of the character Ryuji to explore the possibility of what can happen to the individual if Japanese society were to turn on its traditions. The usage of specific imagery and symbolism demonstrates how in the following of traditional and core values one must sacrifice everything to be worthy of its attainment. This results in the understanding of Mishima’s exploration of reconciliation between the expectations of traditional codes and the limitations of modern life. Which results in his perception of the simple truth: that an individual cannot compromise their character and values and still expect to attain glory and thereby honor without the sacrifice required to repent for their ‘betrayal’ of traditional codes.

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