Mishima: The Sound Of Waves Essay

1635 words - 7 pages

English 301
Mishima: The sound of Waves
"The only thing that really counts in a man is his get-up-and-go. If he's got get-up-and-go he's a real man, and those are the kind of men we need here on Uta-jima. Family and money are all secondary."(Mishima, 175) This is the word of Terukichi Miyata while describing Shinji. Shinji’s readiness and willingness to take on the task was praised by Terukichi. Terukichi Miyata describes shinji’s get-up-and-go attitude as a virtue that is needed on the island. It was actually the author’s voice through Terukchi Miyata, pointing out what qualities the ones the author thinks of as a virtue. In “The sound of Waves”, the story revolves around ...view middle of the document...

In its post modern era setting, there is crash of cultures. In the book, the clash of culture is evident by the characters’ differences in the attitude towards pre-marital sex. Yasuo is accustomed to the world outside Uta-jima, and takes pride in speaking without the island dialect. Yasuo bought a girl to have sex with on his business trip to Toba, but he knows that his attitude towards sex conflicts with that of the island.
If he had been a boy from an ordinary farming or fishing village, his experience with women would have been cause for boasting, but on strait-laced Uta-jima he had to keep his mouth tightly shut (60-61).

The culture of Uta-jima clashes with Yasuo’s behavior. Yasuo had a sexual experience as a boy. He knows that Uta-jima is conservative community and that his experience will be discussed as something shameful rather than the subject of boasting. Yasuo’s attitude towards premarital sex is opposite of that of Shinji and Hatsue. Shinji and Hatsue are in tune with the culture of the island in terms of premarital sex. Shinji and Hatsue came very close to have sex in the lighthouse during the storm. But Hatsue stopped Shinji saying, “It’s bad for now. Because I’ve decided it’s you I’m going to marry, and until I do, it’s really bad.” (77) In response, Shinji stops from pursuing her body. Although Shinji did have “haphazard respect for moral things,” he knew how to understand and respect Hatsue’s moral stance (77). The attitude of Shinji and Hatsue towards sex is more reflective of Bushido than that of Yasuo. Shinji showed respect and honor towards Hatsue’s rectitude. In comparison, Yasuo’s behavior and attitude on sex do not reflect any of the virtues of Bushido, yet Yasuo is rather proud of it. Yasuo also thought being able to “seduce” a girl was a grand success according to pulp magazines he read from the city. This indicates that Yasuo’s attitude towards sex is very liberal, a new norm created by modernization with the influence of Western culture.
Yasuo does not have any qualities supported in Japanese culture. Yasuo is not a virtuous character as his behaviors do not reflect any of seven virtues Bushido promoted; he is proud, dishonest, lazy, immoral, and a coward. He likes to brag about his sexual experience and takes great pride in his lack of dialect. He was also “the pround and always bragging owner of a watch with a luminous dial”, which he thought made women to like him. He is certain that his social status and closeness to Miyata will make him the husband of Hatsue. However, when Chioyoko told him that she had seen Shinji and Hatsue together, it was, “a staggering blow to Yasuo’s pride” (85). As proud as he is, he is dishonest as well. He was very proud of the fact that he had sex with a girl, but he knew he could not brag about it in the conservative community of Uta-jima. Thus, he would act innocent by putting on childish airs (87). Yasuo himself was dishonest so he could not understand how Shinji won...

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