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Group Reads: No Longer Human > Week 3: Third Notebook Part 1

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Jean (otakumom) All discussions including the end of the Third Notebook, Part 1.

Just a quick reminder: you can discuss any part of the book up until the end of the Third Notebook, Part 1. If you have read ahead and wish to discuss it, please post it in the appropriate topic thread. Thanks!

Jean (otakumom) Flatfish and Yozo's dynamic is another interesting one. Flatfish seems to want to reach the real Yozo while Yozo still relies on what is expected of him. Does Flatfish affect in a positive light or just send him further on his downward spiral?

It's also interesting that Takeichi's prediction about Yozo's success with women comes true. It's actually rather disturbing yet uncanny. However, Yozo's art aspirations take a nose dive.

Do you think Yozo's life would have taking a turn for the better if the reverse had happened? Art career successful but unlucky with the women?

Andy | 25 comments I don't think the reverse could have happened and I think that's why he is only able to produce cartoons. The best art, the truly meaningful art, the masterpieces, all strive to reach a really deep place that connects us all. And I know that leads to a whole "chicken and egg" discussion about why widely accepted classics have become so important and revered over time, shape our expectations for more modern art, etc.,etc. But great works of art share a part of the universal human experience. I don't think Yozo could possibly have created works like that. In fact, his cartoons even degrade to the basest material over time.

In Flatfish I found a character I can root against in favor of Yozo. His small deceits about money, his desire to save face, his ingratiating manner made me dislike him immensely. I think he wants to get Yozo on a path towards integration in society and success out for personal motives more than anything. I didn't think he was a cause of Yozo's continued spiral, but I think he serves as an interesting foil, the society man who wants the appearance to be pristine, no matter what kind of internal turmoil the individual feels. I understand that is a prominent feature in more collectivized societies than the one I live in (the US), but I also think it exemplifies my point from the previous posts about the darkness of post-war Japanese literature.

I'm curious about the women in Yozo's life though. It's clear that he's using them. But is there some way that they are using him too?

message 4: by Jean (last edited Oct 18, 2013 03:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jean (otakumom) I felt that a lot of the women were using him as much as he was using them. Perhaps they felt that he could be controlled and he didn't seem so bad in their eyes. Whether they felt a "love connection", it's safe to say that they did not; attraction, yes; love, no. Perhaps all they were seeking was a comfortable companionship and thought Yozo was the perfect candidate of being funny yet timid.

It's interesting how Shigeko sends him further into his self-loathing. Yozo had deemed her safe but then is floored when she wishes for her real daddy. He completely loses whatever peace he managed to establish with Shizuko before abandoning them.

Bethany (besanii) I thought that it was interesting that Yozo married Yoshiko. He says he made her life horrendous, I can't how he would have made her happy he must have known. Also has she divorced Shizuko?

I also took a dislike to Flatfish, I wondered if he was just in it for the money or a sense of loyalty to Yozo's family.

I wonder sometimes if the women can sense the sadness in Yozo and they want to comfort him and be the one to make him happy, not for selflessness but for there ego or hoping to get something out of him.

Jean (otakumom) Flatfish seems like your typical frienemy. While he may do things that benefit you and seem like a friend, it's still all about him. I don't think he has malice towards Yozo but he has no loyalty towards him as a person. But then again Horiko has no real feelings of loyalty towards Yozo. He uses Yozo for money though he's far more blatant about it. He doesn't spare Yozo from pain but forces him into it (as in the situation with Yoshiko and the shopkeeper).

I wasn't a 100% sure if he was married to Shizuko. He referenced that they lived like husband and wife but I wasn't certain whether to take that as if they were married or that he was co-habitating with her.

Yoshiko seems like she was way in over her head. I think he hoped that she would make him happy and on the straight and narrow but it didn't work out that way. Yoshiko hoped to be that woman but not so. Like you said, for egotistical reasons rather than altruistic ones.

Looking at all these characters, you can't help but to feel that everyone is out for themselves or looking to gain something from someone else.

Andy | 25 comments I was curious about what happened between the shopkeeper and Yoshiko. It seemed almost like a sexual assault rather than consensual sex. It could just be the way it was written, but it felt like a kind of violation.

I know there are some differences in culture regarding a woman's part in a sexual assault in Japan, and I'm sure there were different feelings about it when the book was written, but I was wondering if you ladies had a different perspective than I did on it.

Bethany (besanii) At the start I didn't think Yozo was out for himself more I though he was lost, I'm starting to change my mind though.

By the way Yozo and Yoshiko reacted, it seemed more to me to be closer to coercion. I wouldn't say she was violently raped but maybe given no other option but to have sex with him. I'd still call this rape but since she may have taken an active part it would have seemed less like it to them, particularly Yozo

Jean (otakumom) I got the impression that she was raped but then the language was weird and ambiguous and I'm back to not being sure if it might have been seduction.

Yozo kept stating that Yoshiko was too pure and trusting to have understood what happened. Hiroki told him to forgive her since he was no prize. And Yozo hated Hiroki for not stopping it by clearing his throat or something but allowing it to happen and bringing Yozo to witness it.

With that in mind, I'm not certain if it was rape or seduction.

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