Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Language and Structure in the novel When I Whistle by Shusaku Endo Essay

Language and Structure in the novel When I Whistle by Shusaku Endo - Essay Example Here he encounters a person who seems vaguely familiar but whom he cannot quite place. This man turns out to have been a fellow student at Nada Middle School some forty years before. Their brief conversation provokes an extended reminiscence that transports Ozu back to a simpler, more serene time in his life. Upon seeing boats on the lake, he conjures up his schoolboy friend, Flatfish, and their adventures together in an idyllic time before World War II, when the Japanese educational system sought to inculcate the virtues of pride and industriousness. While his stern teacher tried to build character, Ozu spent his school hours daydreaming about the young women he and his best friend, the unsophisticated but endearing Flatfish, would pursue, literally, once the school day had ended. (Allen 530-531; Updike 94-102) The romance and innocence of his adolescence is captured for Ozu in the enduring image of Flatfish's "tiny head being tossed about by the waves as he swam desperately for the open sea" in pursuit of a girl, Aiko, whom he had met by chance and with whom both were madly in love. While militarism gripped their nation, Ozu and Flatfish preferred the frivolous joys of childish classroom pranks and chasing girls. In When I Whistle , Endo is concerned to draw a number of disturbing contrasts between wartime and present-day Japan while scrupulously avoiding, in translator Van C. Gessel's words, "painting either period in a romantic light." What, Endo asks, is the legacy of the war generation, what kind of Japan has resulted from the devastation of World War II Part of his answer is seen in the life-style of Eiichi, the ruthless young surgeon of When I Whistle; unaffected by the tragedy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and unable to see his patients as anything but specimens for his own experiments, he extends the imperialistic impulse of prewar Japan by ignoring the past and worshipping the present. (King 23-24) The accumulation of material possessions is the only source of meaning for the new generation. This striking thematic element in When I Whistle is made more powerful by its pervasive medical and hospital imagery. (Cunningham 527) Chronic heart and lung problems have plagued Endo throughout his adult life and consequently he has spent much time in hospitals; in the early 1960's, Endo underwent a series of major surgical procedures, resulting in the removal of one lung. Japan emerges in When I Whistle as one large cancer ward, the malignancy of rampant materialism uncurable, the placebo of success a momentary distraction in the face of a godless eternity. As a Christian, Endo is an apologist for a set of values he believes is indigenous to the West but foreign to Japanese soil. A convert who recognizes the irony that Japan has become less spiritual as it has become more Westernized, Endo constructs themes which generally revolve around a protagonist confronted with the ruins of a native culture to which he is drawn and by which he is repulsed. Ozu is thus an exemplar of Endo's despairing vision of the postwar era-an open-hearted Japanese seeking answers and finding only the echoes of the past. Endo wrote When I Whistle between his two more celebrated historical novels set in the seventeenth century, Chimmoku (1966; Silence , 1969) and Samurai (1980; The Samurai , 1982). In

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.