The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

929 Words4 Pages
Like walking through a barren street in a crumbling ghost town, isolation can feel melancholy and hopeless. Yet, all it takes is something like one flower bud to show life really can exist anywhere. This is similar to Stephen’s journey in The Samurai’s Garden. This novel is about an ailing Chinese boy named Stephen who goes moves to a Japanese village during a time of war between Japan and China to recover from his disease. By forming bonds with several locals and listening to their stories, he quickly matures into a young adult. Throughout the novel, Gail Tsukiyama shows how disease forces Stephen into isolation; however, his relationship with Sachi and his time spent in Matsu’s garden lead him out of solitude. When Stephen contracts tuberculosis and is sent to Tarumi to recuperate, he loses his carefree childhood and falls into isolation. Upon arriving in Tarumi, he says, “This early autumn there didn’t seem to be anyone else here, just me, Matsu, and a complete white silence…I was exhausted by the time Matsu stopped in front one of the many bamboo fenced houses and cleared his throat to get my attention. My lungs were burning and my legs were weak” (9). A result of his tuberculosis, Stephen is physically weak, as shown by how his “lungs were burning” and his “legs were weak”. This is further developed by how “exhausted” he feels after the walk to the house. .A lack of other people is revealed by Stephen commenting “didn’t seem to be anyone else here, just me, Matsu”. This sheltered feeling is expanded even more by the “complete white silence” hanging the air. Stephen feels very secluded because the quiet calmness of the village is a harsh contrast to the bustling city life he is used to. In this quote, it is clear that diseas... ... middle of paper ... ...iyama appeals to the readers’ emotions and convinces them that the garden’s beauty was able to distract Stephen from the initial loneliness of his situation. Though Stephen initially felt isolated both physically and psychologically due to his illness, through Sachi’s comfort and the calm beauty of Matsu’s garden, Stephen finds his stay at Tarumi to be much less secluded. This proves that though one may feel alone at times, other people or things may help vanquish that feeling. In today’s world, isolation is everywhere – there is isolation due disease, intelligence, race, etc. Yet, people find that little things like human comfort or object reminiscent of a happy past are enough help them realize they are not alone. This sense of aid shows that like the flower in the midst of the desolate landscape, something small is all it takes to erase all negative feelings.
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