Responses to Human Crises Revealed in The Rite by Hiroko Takenishi
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Responses to Human Crises Revealed in The Rite
In the short story "The Rite," Hiroko Takenishi tells of some of the horrors that took place during and after the bombing of Hiroshima. This story was a creative response to the actual devastation Hiroko witnessed. She may have chosen to write this story as fiction rather than an autobiography in order to distance herself from the pain. This work may have served as a form of therapy, by allowing her to express her feelings without becoming personal. She could accomplish this by attributing her own feelings and thoughts to Aki, the narrator of this story.
The crises to which this work responds was the total annihilation of Hiroshima and the aftershock experienced by those left behind. Those who witnessed this devastation were left to make sense of it, and then attempt to carry on with their lives. Aki had temporarily managed to go on with her life until she went to visit her friend Tomiko. At her friends house she saw "two small jars"that contained "fetuses that had been miscarried"( Takenishi 1895), most likely an after affect of being exposed to the bomb. The sight of these fetuses must have stirred some deeply buried feelings, because shortly afterwards, Aki started to have very disturbing flashbacks and dreams of the devastating event that took place during her childhood. Through these dreams and flashbacks it becomes apparent that Aki is unable to acquire any closure regarding this horrible event. This feeling of deficiency could be, in part, attributed to her feeling that there was a shameful lack of consideration shown for the "rites" owed to those who died. In her eyes they were never properly laid to rest; Therefore they" will not rest in peace" (Takenishi 18...
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...in it brought with it ( Takenishi 1907). She felt these memories held a lot of value, and it was important to hold onto them. As she said " someone who can just casually wipe out the memory of his own history will not be fit ... to play the role of the great hero" (Takenishi 1907). I believe she wants to preserve these memories out of respect for those who died, and possibly, as a contribution to their rite.
Hiroko Takenishi used the framework of a fictional story to tell of a real life tragedy. As mentioned before, this may have been done to create distance from the writer and her painful memories. This story was a creative and interesting way of allowing others to experience the devastation felt by those who lived through this crises. At the same time it makes clear the suffering and injustice that was inflicted on innocent lives, and the senseless evils of war.