The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea

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1) Description
A) The Book
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima is thought of being one of Japan's many exceptional and irreplaceable contributions to the world of literature. This book was translated by John Nathan, and published by First Vintage International in New York in 1994 at 181 pages long. The original edition was published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1965. Judging a book by it covers is often how I choose a book to read. Although this book was assigned for the class I still gave the cover a once over before reading it. My first impression was that the cover backed up the title of the book by offering a huge rolling wave as a focal point and the person portrayed the sailor. After learning that the Great Wave is a popular symbol of Japanese culture and reading the book I gave the cover another look. Everything about the cover reflects Japanese culture from the wave to the way that the title and the author’s name are written. On the cover is a person who I believe to be Noboru. In his eye you see the wave reflected which can be seen as the way Japanese culture is reflected in him for he and his friends are old Japan. B) The Story

Located on the shores of the Yokohama Harbor, Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea takes place Post World War II Japan. At the start of the book we are introduced to the three main characters: the widow Fusako Kuroda, a merchant of fine European goods, her defiant son Noboru, and Ryuji Tsukazaki, a second mate on the freighter Rakuyo. Fusako Kuroda owns a fancy clothing shop in Yokohama that imports from Europe and England. She lives a lonely existence as a widow with her young son Noboru, who is a 13-year-old boy who lost his father 5 years ago. Noboru spends much of his free time with a group of boys his own age who seek to understand the fundamental order of the universe through their philosophy of objectivity. When we first meet young Noboru, his mother has locked him in to his bed room to keep him from sneaking out to meet up with his gang. While locked in is room Noboru discovers a peephole in the wall behind one of the drawers of his dresser. Through the peephole he is able to spy on his mother during her nightly routines and some of her most intimate moments by herself and while she is with the sailor. But in the end his secret is found out. Noboru is part of a gang that is made up of several boys that are of the same age. The boys are known to each by a military fashion of order with Noboru known as Number Three. The leader of the so called gang is known by The Chief. Noboru and the others obey the rules of their superior leader, an intelligent but spoiled adolescent, who his wealthy parents leave often to his own devices. The Chief is the incarnation of the old adage “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”. Every day after school The Chief gathers to him his intimate circle of followers for tutelage in the ways of the world, making himself both judge and jury of human nature. His hatred for mundane commonplace and mindless contentment drives him to do the most unthinkable of acts; to the point, even, of killing and dissecting a poor kitten, so he can show his followers true life without the “pettiness of skin”. Noboru shares the characteristics of any typical adolescent when free from the control of The Chief. In Noboru’s character the author reflects occasional moodiness, sexual curiosity, the need for independence, and a boyish fascination, especially for ships. When a freighter (Rakuyo) pulls into Yokohama Harbor, which happens to be the ship Ryuji Tsukazaki is second mate on, Fusako is invited to the ship to take her pick of the items for her shop. She takes her son along with her. It is Noboru's fascination for ships that leads to a tour of the Rakuyo and the chance meeting between his mother and the sailor. Tsukazaki tours them around and somehow the widow and the sailor ended up spending the...
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