Mishima, the author of the book The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, writes about a current conflict between the western and eastern values. The antagonism occurs in Fusako’s home and the contrasting settings of the sea. The author negatively portrays Fusako as a character, who succumbs to the western lifestyles based on her materialistic nature. Mishima differentiates the environment in Fusako’s home and associates it with material objects (Mishima, 1994). For instance, an image of a “delicate table” and other exquisite furniture indicates that Fusako had adopted the western way of life. However, the author presents the sea in a simple way, which symbolises the traditional Eastern values. In contrast to the decorated home of Fusako, the sea is mild, natural, and beautiful.
In chapter 7, Mishima explains how Ryuji and Fusako go out on a date, and Fusako fails to return home. The two characters decide to spend the night at the hotel discussing Ryuji’s departure. After Fusako discloses to Ryuji that she had fallen in love, they both shed tears of joy and sadness. According to Mishima, the tears of sadness indicated Fusako’s agony that Ryuji was leaving (1994). However, Noboru becomes disappointed because he had hoped that he would watch them through a peephole. As a result, Noboru makes a crime list for Ryuji.
In chapter 6, Ryuji meets Noboru in town after taking a nature walk in the park. However, Noboru starts to change his perception on the sailor. In fact, Noboru talks about Ryuji as a hero, who had been exploring the world and now brings back some positive energy to him and his mother (Mishima, 1994). However, Noboru accuses Ryuji of having committed several crimes with his mother. In the chapter, Noboru and Ryuji discuss ships, which Noboru tries to learn about when the sailor interrogates him. At the end of the episode, Ryuji goes to meet with his lover, while Fusako and Noboru sleep on the couch.
Mishima portrays Ryuji as a sailor at the beginning of the novel. According to Mishima, Ryuji describes the sea as his place of residence, thus, detaching the marine from the materialism of the land (1994). The differences between the two settings set a contrast between the eastern and western cultures. As a result of his ambivalent nature, Ryuji is unable to choose between land and sea, which eventually leads to his downfall. Because of his collapse, Ryuji becomes frustrated and perceives the ship as another form of prison.
Ryuji interacts with Fusako, which makes him vacate the sea and live in Fusako’s home. During his stay with Fusako, Ryuji adopts to her materialistic lifestyle. The shift of setting is a clear indicator of submission to westernisation. However, Ryuji loses his ideal figure and status after adopting Fusako’s materialistic lifestyle. Mishima uses Noboru to display a cynical view of the transition from eastern to the western ways of life. In fact, Noboru becomes intrigued by the lifestyle of Ryuji, which influences her to get attached to his character.
Elements of the Chapter
Mishima narrates the narrative from the perspective of the characters, Ryuji and Noboru. While Ryuji represents unrealistic optimism and development of the body, Noboru stands for canal nihilism and an intellect youth. In the story, Fusako represents the contemporary Japan after the occurrence of World War II. Currently, Japan has an extensive economic power and a fascination for western goods. The author uses Fusako to portray Japan because most Japanese residents keep forgetting their traditional roots, thus, worshipping wealth and beauty. Mishima wears a kimono and shows it off to the sailor in the bedroom. Fusako represents a debauchery in the post-war Japan. The author portrays the character as an educated business woman, who embraces the western lifestyles.
Conversely, Ryuji represents a transition of Japan, and he becomes uncertain of the decision to make. The character symbolises a Japan that is lost in the sea since it belongs to neither the west nor the east. Mishima uses Ryuji to characterise a transition of the traditional and contemporary Japan. According to Mishima, Fusako teaches Ryuji all English lessons and the merchandise business (1994). Even though Ryuji knows that he is losing his old values, he is willing to take what life offers him. Apparently, Ryuji is an idealistic figure, who becomes obsessed with the trinity of the sea and feminine beauty.
Noburu and his friends symbolise the future of Japan after a destruction of the old values. Mishima portrays Noboru as the old ways of Japan such as the Samurai code, which stipulates that everyone must have full control of their mind and body. Because Noburu has no father, he clings to an ideal Japanese figure that has no place in the westernised Japan. Noburu’s friends understand that Ryuji would eventually fall for Fusako’s charm. In his sentiments, Noburu argues that if killing Ryuji would prevent them from going down the same path, then that would cause winning back Japan. After Ryuji eventually marries Fusako, Noboru understands that the old was dying and his glory was fading away.
Mishima uses symbolism to develop the plot of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. For instance, he uses the sea, which serves as a prominent symbol in the text. Noboru perceives the sea as an escape plan and part of a society that he cannot despise. Similarly, Ryuji, a sailor, represents masculinity that befits a man of the sea.
Additionally, the author uses marriage as a symbol of conformity and weakness. Although Ryuji eventually changes the way, which he perceives marriage, he considered married officers as people with no hope. The idea of marriage appears as a hindrance in the pursuit of glory. Although Ryuji changes his attitude and marries Fusako, Noboru still has a negative attitude towards the wedding. For instance, Noburu recognises Ryuji’s marriage proposal as a weakness, which leads him to give up his pursuit of glory.
Furthermore, Mishima uses father figures as symbolism in the novel. Noboru and his friends perceive the ancestors as malicious beings. In their sentiments, Noburu and his friends affirm that ancestors are meant to teach them about the values of the society. However, Noboru believes that father figures suppress his autonomy and capabilities. Because the ancestors to his friends seemed to be of bad morals, Noboru is proud that his father had died and that he could not suppress him. For this reason, Noburu accepts Ryuji as his fatherly figure. However, when the other boys who perceive fathers as cruel realise Noburu’s decision, they decide to kill him and prevent him from becoming a hero.
In conclusion, Mishima writes about Ryuji and Fusako, who go out for dinner. Noburu awaits for his mother to arrive with Ryuji at home. However, Fusako decides to call the housekeeper and inform her that she would spend the night at a friend’s house. Moreover, the servant tells Noburu that Fusako would arrive home in the morning to prepare to report to work. Apparently, Ryuji fights with the prospect of falling in love with Fusako because his heart is profoundly attached to the sea. Eventually, Noburu and his gang decide to kill Ryuji as a way of restoring Japan’s honour. In this episode, the author examines Noburu’s desire to seek glory through killing Ryuji.
- Mishima, Yukio. (1994). The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. Gogo no eiko. Print.