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Heroes in Wonderful Fool and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

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Expectations of Heroes in Wonderful Fool and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea            

 
In a human being's search for spiritual peace throughout life, he constantly turns to outside sources for the answers to his questions. Some people quench their curiosity in a god or religion; some find release through the use of foreign chemicals. Many people, however, turn to another person in their time of personal questioning, soliciting answers from their own pseudo-hero. This character is one who, by virtue of his exotic origin, is chosen by the person to fill a void or achieve a goal. The hero is expected to meet certain qualifications based on his devotee's heroic ideal. However, no one can successfully accomplish the objectives set for them by another person, especially when they are personally unaware of these goals. In many instances, this leads to disillusionment and bitterness in the person who has determined these goals.

This is the case with the main characters in the novels Wonderful Fool and The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. The "heroes" in these books, Gaston Bonaparte and Ryuji Tsukazaki, are constantly expected to fulfill the fancies of those who venerate them. The inability of both Gaston and Ryuji to automatically satisfy these expectations ultimately leads to a sense of indignation and betrayal in their respective devotees, Tomoe and Noboru. This disappointment is fueled not by the failure of Gaston and Ryuji to achieve the goals set for them, but rather by the arrogance assumed by Tomoe and Noboru in expecting their preset qualifications to be fulfilled.

Shusaku Endo's novel Wonderful Fool is a work filled with characters who receive something contrary to their expectations. The...


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...ed leveling of charges. However, there is one major difference. Tomoe, unlike Noboru, realizes her own hubris near the end of Wonderful Fool and feels as if it has been somehow defeated by having "lost out" to a fool: "This feeling of having been beaten was to Tomoe, who prided herself on being a very knowledgeable young lady, particularly disagreeable" (Endo 185). Noboru, on the other hand, takes his egotism to the extreme, using the crimes he has accused Ryuji of committing as sufficient reason to condemn him to death, in order to “make him a hero again" (Mishima 163). In each case, the arrogance assumed by Tomoe and Noboru is not realized in time to redeem their heroes, who in turn vanish from the lives of their devotees, never to return.

Works Cited:

Mishima, Yukio. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea. Trans. John Nathan. New York: Vintage, 1994.


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