Western vs. Japanesse Identity in Yukio Mishima's "The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea"

Western vs. Japanesse Identity in Yukio Mishima's "The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea"

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Yukio Mishima’s novel, “The Sailor who fell from Grace with the Sea” (will now be referred to as “Sailor”) follows a sensitive 13 year old boy, Noboru, who is caught in the cusp between childhood and adolescence. He is searching for self identity in a time where traditional Japanese values are giving way to new, modern, Western values.
From the beginning of the novel we see Noboru being confined in his room to prevent him from sneaking out to see the rest of the gang. The gang is a group of 5 other boys, all of whom are of the same age as Noboru. They all assert their own genius and seek to understand the “intrinsic order” of the universe through the demolition of the status quo.
The gang is led by a boy known only as “the Chief”. He is a very intelligent, yet spoilt boy who is too often left on his own. He becomes preoccupied with “filling the emptiness of the world”. The only way he sees that the “emptiness” can be filled is by murder. The Chief tries to snatch away the gang’s sexual curiosity by showing them pictures of people having intercourse. He holds meetings every day after school where he affirms himself as both the judge and the jury of the court, he is the supreme power.
I have studied the Chief closely and have found that it is his contempt for the mundane platitudes and the mindless complacency around him which drives him to extremes. To truly understand the Chief I had to go over his philosophy of the world, and people around him. I thought that the best way to portray what I had learned about the Chief was by writing a poem of the “majestic” moment that he realized that he had filled the “world’s great hollows” with the kitten’s blood. I often found myself shocked and disgusted by what he was says. However, ...


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...hat I feel “Sailor” does. The reader is shocked by the cold-heartedness of the gang- especially the Chief, and the extent to which they will go to achieve fullness and beauty in a world which to them is filled with emptiness and ugliness. At the very same time however, the reader is somewhat intrigued by the strength and genius of the group, and power of the Chief’s authority. The title which I have chosen for the poem is a combination of different aspects of the Chief’s philosophy, the impermissible quality of the sea, and the ability of blood to fill the “emptiness of the world”. I think by giving the poem such a title I am able to bring out the subtleties of the Chief’s philosophy and link together its two main theories.
I hope that I have been successful in imitating Mishima’s style, and also showing my understanding of the novel through this poem.





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