The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea Analysis

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Yukio Mishima, Japanese author, is undaunted and audacious when it comes to writing plotlines in the novel The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea. There are scenes that may seem odd and disturbing to Western readers who read his novel for the first time. But when one decides to take a closer look at his unique writing style, the passages that once seemed repulsive to some suddenly turn beautiful. Mishima writes in the very beginning of his novel, “I could defeat ugliness” (Mishima 9). The term ‘ugly’ in this work refers to the state of not having glory and honor. After examining and analyzing the entirety of the novel, it is evident that through Mishima’s rich use of imagery, personification, motifs and symbolism, he is able to demonstrate …show more content…
Many Japanese people worship kami, spirits of nature that reside in physical bodies that serve as examples of what humans should act like. Among these spirits, Japanese heroes are often found. In the novel, adolescent boys murder a cat. The boys are stripping the cat’s physical body to extract its spirit. To emphasize the act of obtaining glory, Mishima uses a great deal of color imagery, specifically the color white, to give reason as to why the boys want the life from the cat. White symbolizes purity, the freedom from adulteration and immortality, and therefore death. Purity in this passage plays the role of beauty. Mishima writes that beneath the surface of the dead cat was a “glossy-white inner life” (59). The boys and the dead cat “became perfectly at one” (59). This shows that the spirit of the cat is now with the boys, and they secured glory. It is important to note that Mishima suggests that the cat obtained glory as well, by using the color purple to display further imagery. After the kitten dies, his pupils are described as “purple flecked with white” (60). In Japanese literature, purple represents wealth and privilege. The color imagery painted by Mishima indicates that the cat is now glorified. Now that the cat has acquired purity and beauty, it is now wealthy, a status that according to the human …show more content…
Reflecting on his life, Ryuji almost hears the “call of the Grand Cause” which Mishima writes is another name for “the tropical sun” (180). The Mishima is using motifs and literary symbols from earlier on in the novel with the death of the cat to highlight this. In the cat scene, the heart is described as a “little sun” (61). The heart is the powerhouse of animals, which pumps blood to generate other parts of the body. The cat’s heart is a symbolized by the motif of the sun. The sun is a very prominent symbol in Japan. The country is known as the ‘land of the rising sun’ because of Japan’s location in the world. The sun is also the main feature on Japan’s flag. These concepts display Japan’s desire to be a glorified nation. Comparing the heart to a sun in the cat scene shows the glory in the cat that Noboru and the boys were trying to obtain. During Ryuji’s death, the sun is rising and blaring across the sky. Glory is shining in Ryuji’s eyes, as he is dying, and as he hears the brass trumpet, another motif. The brass trumpet is mentioned previously in the novel as a horn. Ryuji can only obtain glory when he is a sailor, not when he’s married to a woman. When Ryuji kisses Fusako, “he could feel the horn probing deep inside him, rousing his passion for the Grand Cause” (77). This suggests that Ryuji is always longing to find glory. When he is asked why

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