Samurai's Garden

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In Gail Tsukiyama's The Samurai's Garden Stephen is sent from his homeland in China to Japan to recover from tuberculosis. In his journey to recovery he begins to learn from the culture of the Japanese. Stephen soon discovers that Matsu, the family's servant, shows quintessential characteristics of Japanese culture. Matsu's traits can often be compared to those of medieval Japanese warriors. Throughout Samurai's Garden, Matsu shows characteristics of a true samurai. One of the characteristics present in Matsu is his strength internally. This strength is best shown during Kenzo's burial. At the burial of his best friend Matsu "was silent throughout the entire procession, simply bowing his head to those who showed their sympathy at the loss of his good friend" (109). Much like a samurai, Matsu's internal strength allows him to remain calm and prevent emotional pain caused by his close friend's death to be seen. Throughout this novel Matsu proves himself to be an honorable man, although only a servant. As Stephen gets to know Matsu better he begins to see the respectability of the man. In conversation Stephen tells Matsu "You have a strong face. A face someone doesn't forget…like a samurai" (30). This displays Matsu's honorability when Stephen, someone of wealth, compares Matsu to a samurai which is considered the archetypal figure of honor in Japanese society. Matsu's noble manner of speaking is also very suggestive of the traits of a samurai. Stephen explains after Sachi believes in Matsu's advice to her that "Matsu's words have a certain certainty to them" (80). This shows Matsu's power with his words and that the people around him have a sense of respect for him as well, faithfully taking his advice. The true samurai within Matsu was shown most in his conduct. Matsu's silence is present in many parts of the book. This silence becomes powerful as Sachi explains that "with Matsu, everything is in what he does not say" (59). This strength through silence is one...
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