The Chief as an influence in The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

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The Chief as an influence in The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea

A minor character in a novel is usually disregarded due to their lesser role in the story. It is rare in a novel to see any emphasis on a minor character. Nonetheless, no matter how trivial of a part, they still have a role to play in the plot and the story as a whole, whether it is to stand on the sidelines and cheer for the central characters or to support the development of the major and additional characters. A minor character simply known as the Chief in Yukio Mishima’s novel The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea runs a small group of boys who seek to change the world. As the leader of the group, he has a certain amount of control over the other boys. However, he is shown to abuse this power to get the other boys to do what he wishes. Although a minor character, the Chief has an immense impact on the minor characters as well as the central figure’s actions and development as a character. The high amount of respect Noboru holds for the Chief is ironic. Although the Chief hates fathers more than anything else on earth, he has developed into a pseudo father figure for him. This father-like appearance is first demonstrated when the group of boys begins to dissect the stray cat. After Noboru beats the cat to death, the Chief “laid one beautiful white hand on Noboru’s shoulder [and said] ‘You did a good job.’”(61) His actions in this scene parallels Ryuji’s behavior later in the novel when speaking to Noboru as a father and not as a sailor. However, Ryuji’s motivations for finally acting like a father figure towards Noboru contradict the Chief’s purposes for “bonding” with him. While Ryuji’s fatherly attitude is used to actually become more of a father for him, the Chief’s father-like demeanor is used to encourage Noboru to join in on the controversial activities he has in store for him. Following the cats dissection, Noboru looks back on his murder and thinks, “I killed it all by



Cited: Mishima, Yukio. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea. Trans. John Nathan. New York: Knopf, 1965

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