We are constantly being affected our surroundings. As a result, our attitudes and personalities are a product of our experiences and the various environments in which they occurred . Furthermore, the society we live in presents to us a set of standards, values, and givens that we may or may not agree with. In literature, the society plays a major role in affecting the characters' thoughts and actions. In The Sailor who Fell From Grace with the Sea, The Stranger, and "Medea", the characters are affected by their society, and their actions reflect their conformity (or non-conformity) to it. Ultimately, non-conformity in these works create the conflicts that make the plots interesting.
In Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea , the characters are presented with the relatively modern society of post World War 2 Japan. Since the war, as Japan underwent their "second" industrial revolution, it became more permeable to western culture(since it was a major contender of international business). Since Japan has always been a nation that stressed the importance of preserving its culture(imposing isolationism at one point), these changes did not go down so smoothly. Mishima expresses this discomfort by depicting two characters with opposite grounds of non-conformity. One being Fusako; a non-conformist in a traditional perspective, and the other Noboru, a non-conformist in a contemporary perspective.
In Albert Camus' The Stranger, society only affects the main character, Meursault, after he comes to a mid-story crisis. For all practical purposes, Meursault was living in a French society of the 30's, whereas Al...
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...rent does not conform.
The authors' relations to us on the characters' places in society help us to relate to and comprehend their actions. If Meursault hadn't been so detached from society, Noboru so discontented with society, and Medea so vengeful toward society, we wouldn't have half of the justification needed to understand the murders that took place in the works. Given the presented material about conformity, I conclude that the stories' plots indeed grow around the unique attributes of the non-conformers, and as result, spark the reader's imagination to the fullest.
Euripedes "Medea", Greece 431 BC
Camus, Albert (Translated by Matthew Ward) The Stranger , New York,
Vintage International, 1988
Mishima, Yukio. (Translated by John Nathan) The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, New York, Vintage International, 1993.
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