Deep River is a short novel through which Shusaku Endo shares the story of a number of Japanese tourists who travel to India in an unknown pursuit of their pilgrimage of grace. Ironically the characters within the novel are non-believers of the Hindu religion, which can be a bit confusing for the reader at first. But as one proceeds through the novel, one will come to realize that the basis of the novel was not to review any particular religion, but to depict the individual journey to God. As stated within the novel, “God has many different faces. I don’t think God exists exclusively in the churches and chapels of Europe…(p.121)”Meaning similar paths will most likely not be taken. However it becomes evident through the reading that it is their sub-conscious notions that lead them to India to find God, although their trips appear to be for alternative reasons. Throughout the novel, Endo jumps from one character to the next revealing intimate moments of each characters past to the reader in an attempt to explain the cause of the individual’s journey to India. Each character’s story is different however all the stories share a broken link in their lives that only God, in one of his many faces, can fill. Although he is presented later within the novel, Numada, a short story writer, displays one of the several manners in which an individual can find God, through nature. Through the numerous events of his interactions with animals and nature, Numada was presented with a path of revelation that led him to God. When Numada is first introduced to the reader, he is currently on his way to India when he is recognized by one of the stewardess on board. When asked to confirm his identity, Endo states that he, “[nods] his head in silent embarrassment.” Numada behavior appears to be a bit strange as it can be taken two different ways. In one manner, Numada silent embarrassment can be taken as modesty or humility that can be attributed to the Japanese culture or the Christian values. In the other manner, Numada response can be taken as embarrassment for his profession. In Matthew 10:32-33 Jesus states, “…if anyone denies me here own earth, I will deny that person before my Father in heaven.” Although he is unaware of it at the moment, Numada’s writing is a reflection of his love for God which is represented by his love for animals. Therefore, within his nodding of slight embarrassment, one can conclude that at the particular moment Numada was denying God. However, within the next moment Numada speaks upon his writing and expounds upon his passion, “It’s really stories with dogs and birds as the main characters.(p.70)” As explained earlier, Endo makes a point to explain the past of each character to the audience. Within Numda’s life experiences presented to the reader, it is quite evident that during his critical moments of distress, he had been comforted by the presence of a dog and bird. Thus it can be understood why Numada chose to only write about the two as his main characters, which can be attributed as symbols of Jesus Christ.
As a young boy, Numada’s relationship with his dog Blackie appeared to be that of true friendship. “Blackie had been the one who understood his sorrow in those days, the only living thing who would listen to his complaints: his companion (p.73).” Sometimes within an individual’s life, one will experience times of turmoil within their family. During those periods, one may feel that they have no one to confide in, as in friends or family, but an outside element, which represents the spirit of God. As a dog, Blackie is known as a man’s best friend. As symbol of Christ he is man’s best friend.
While reflecting upon his youth, Endo’s thoughts hover around Blackie, “If I hadn’t had Blackie with me then…I doubt I ever would have written a children’s story(p.74).” Blackie supported Numada through his time of need. It can be said that Blackie carried Numada; an action similar to that displayed within the popular...
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