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DISCUSSION THREAD | Chapters 1 - 2 (Part One: Summer)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:08PM) (new)

Welcome readers! Please use this thread to discuss only Chapters 1 - 2 (Part One: Summer) of The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. First impressions, characters that are grabbing your attention, quotes, significant events, symbols or metaphors or even things you dislike about the novel so far are welcome. I encourage everyone in the group to please participate in these chapter discussions. The group will only be as strong and engaging as you make it. Talk to each other, discuss someone's point, acknowledge, all that! :) Unfortunately, we're not in person but it's still a book club so chatting is our only way to connect.

*Note | If you’ve already read the novel and are engaging in the discussion with our readers just do not jump ahead and inform anyone of something that happens later.

|||||| Group reading officially begins March 1. ||||||


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

So, Chapter One.

when we first meet 13 year old Noboru he has discovered a peephole in between himself and his mothers bedroom. We also learn that he only looks through at his mother on the days she is angry or cold toward him. We're also made aware that she locks him in the room at night. No father figure seems to be present. Our titular sailor (I presume) is also introduced in this first chapter, having sex with Noboru's mother with, of course, Noboru spying. (The description of his erection; "the lustrous temple tower soared triumphantly erect.")

What an introduction chapter! This really sets up a very specific and insular tone. What are everyone's first thoughts about Noboru? The sailor? And Noboru's mother?


message 3: by Lynecia (new)

Lynecia (luvnecia) I was a bit uncomfortable with reading about him peeking at his mom, however, it didn't really seem sexually motivated, he was doing it to spite her in a way. However, I'm having trouble with interpreting the part where he sees her with the sailor and the blast of the horn comes through the window and it says "...in that instant everything packed inside Noburo's breast since the first day of his life was released and consummated." Is this some kind of sexual awakening happening there, or something else?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I apologize, it did mention that Noboru's father died when he was eight years old. An incident he refers to as "happy" as he already is engaged in a dark philosophy that society and life is "fictional."


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 01, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Lynecia, that's a pivotal moment. Thanks for bringing it up! It is definitely worth getting several different opinions of what the horn from the sea signified. Or rather, how Noboru interpreted it.
That horn sequence is definitely open for various interpretations and I would love to read others.

Noboru interpreted the moment as some kind of transcendence from characters playing their part in life, meeting with fates, which he earlier said was useless as death was the only act in life worth tending to and nurturing. the sea represents a soullessly starved entity searching for anything to suck back into itself and own. He eventually concludes that though it feels prophetic, it signifies nothing. And he seems to be basking into the pointlessness of life. The sex is how life is created but the death in all its strangeness and pointless robbery trumps it all.


message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Yes, it's certainly voyeuristic and discomforting but there is no inclination that Noboru is turned on by spying. Instead, he seems to be a person obsessed with gathering meaningful ideas. There's nothing sexual about it which is odd...


message 7: by Lynecia (new)

Lynecia (luvnecia) Conrad wrote: "Lynecia, that's a pivotal moment. Thanks for bringing it up! It is definitely worth getting several different opinions of what the horn from the sea signified. Or rather, how Noboru interpreted it...."

Thanks for illuminating that for me!
This first chapter definitely bears a re-read for me, Mishima's writing is really dense with lots of ideology, symbols and metaphors. Close reading is a must!


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Lynecia, he also seems to cherish this breakthrough in a personal way as to maybe attach a deeper meaning to the act of death or dying. He says he would fight to preserve this epiphany. I think what we know about Mishima, seems to suggest that the "pointlessness" of life could be cured in some way by an honorable or meaningful death. It's certainly a disturbing passage and since this is obviously an artful book, I'm sure this theme brought on by the dark horns coming from the sea will expand further in the text.


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 01, 2016 12:43PM) (new)

You’ll notice that Mishima presents this character to us as a peeping tom. A person who employs behaviors that are generally uncomfortable for people and frowned upon. In a brilliant way, Mishima has made our first impression of his main character have double meanings. We learn that he is not stimulated by this viewing sexually. Instead, we see it as a thirst for knowledge. A willingness to sneak or look into dark spots to find whatever “truths” he’s in search of. But although we discover his peeping motives are not perverse, Mishima is still allowing you (or wanting you) to have an uncomfortable first encounter with Noboru. This seems to suggest that this character is not someone we can feel trustworthy of.

He also presents us to the character as someone confined. Locked up. Bottled up.
In a creative way, the idea of the mother locking him in his bedroom at night is a great metaphor for the feeling of adolescence as a whole. You’re becoming so much more aware of the ways of the world (and will soon embrace it without the net of parental support or protection) but you can’t quite reach it. It’s locked away.

I loved when Noboru compared himself to an iron anchor. He prides himself on not showing emotion or crying. He prides himself on being fatherless. I loved the imagery of the oysters and seaweed and other paraphernalia of the sea attached to his anchor. We can see these “clinging” objects as versions or metaphors of life experiences. Experiences that we can be sure are quite limited. What has Noboru really experienced? A better question could be, What is Noboru hungry for?

In the same regard, Mishima doesn’t present this as an authentic strength. As such, we're already (as readers) experiencing a distinct sense of dishonesty and mistrust within the narrative. We still feel he’s a thirteen year old boy. There’s a definite immaturity to all of his ideas. He mentions quite casually that other boys in his gang share the same beliefs as he which signifies the unoriginality of his worldview. Noboru seems hungry for more.

We see that flexibility of emotion that is so attributed to youth. While Noboru tells us he’s steadfast we assume that it can be changed. I think it’s very significant that the chapter ends as he makes a pact to not ever let himself change or be swayed from his epiphany.

His “iron-will” may be intact or present but feels oddly irresolute. He’s a character searching for something. Limited by his age, stature, situation. He seems to marvel at the sailor and takes a deep satisfaction of the similarities in their bodies. He remarks that the sailors concave chest is like that of an adolescent boys. Is Noboru accepting a future beyond his age- confinements? At any rate, the seeds of his idol-worship for Ryuji have been planted.


message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol I think the lack of a father, not showing emotion/crying, makes Noboru feel independent and I guess you could say "manly"? He seems so set in how he feels about sailors, being a sailor etc. To him being a sailor is continuing that independence and strength. I feel like he views himself as someone older, wiser, and stronger although he is just a teen.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

Anyone else have any first impressions or thoughts on Chapter One they’d like to share? Lol.


message 12: by William (new)

William Baker | 25 comments I hope I can write about both Ch's 1 and 2. What struck me in Chapters One and Two is how the difference between microcosm and macrocosm become blurred in two instances. In the 1st Chapter Noboru looks at a microcosmic erotic scene but sees a macrocosmic event of the sea willing to "join in." And as it were, Ryuji also becomes aware of that switch from microcosmic to macrocosmic and looks out of the window. In the 2nd chapter Ryuji reminisces about his loss of virginity in a starry night in an open boat: there too, the coition becomes the act of making love with the stars or the sky rather than with the prostitute.


message 13: by William (new)

William Baker | 25 comments William wrote: "I hope I can write about both Ch's 1 and 2. What struck me in Chapters One and Two is how the difference between microcosm and macrocosm become blurred in two instances. In the 1st Chapter Noboru l..."
Maybe it is the visions of such a "switch" that are supposed to link the two characters, Noboru and Ryuji.


message 14: by Dylan (new)

Dylan (dylan_z) | 6 comments Really enjoying the discussion so far! I'd like to get a bit more specific and look at how Mishima is revealing Noboru's character. The English major/teacher in me wants to look at a quote:

"At thirteen, Noboru was convinced of his own genius (each of the others in the gang felt the same way) and certain that life consisted of a few simple signals and decisions; that death took root at the moment of birth and man’s only recourse thereafter was to water and tend it; that propagation was a fiction; consequently, society was a fiction too: that fathers and teachers, by virtue of being fathers and teachers, were guilty of a grievous sin. Therefore, his own father’s death, when he was eight, had been a happy incident, something to be proud of." (pg. 8, in my edition)

I was really struck by how Mishima (and his translator) comments on Noboru's convictions and age with asides in the parenthetical and in dependent clauses ("by virtue of being fathers and teachers"). I'm not sure if this particular passage suggests that Noboru is still searching for something, just that Mishima is wary of his commitments and age. I'm really interested in your comments, Conrad, on this "searching" but I'm a little unclear on it--I think I find evidence for it in the way his eye wanders across the equipment on the Rakuyo (pg. 31), or, of course, on his mother and the sailor. He may have very strong (and out there) convictions, but he is still looking intensely and building himself.

William: I love your idea of the microcosm and macrocosm dynamic happening here--there seems to me to be something weird and connected going on with both Noboru and Ryuji and how they think about themselves in relation to the world. Carol, your idea about the lack of father figure (or maybe just a parent?) is interesting, especially as to what we learn about Ryuji's childhood in Chapter 4. And Lynecia, that horn thing is really strange and fascinating!

This, from pg. 38, seems to address a lot of these themes--the loneliness, micro/macrocosm thing, and--if it's not too much of a stretch--the horn/trumpet thing that is connecting Noboru and Ryuji.

Ryuji thinks: "I've never done much, but I've lived my whole life thinking of myself as the only real man. And if I'm right, then a limpid, lonely horn is going to trumpet through the dawn someday, and a turgid cloud laced with light will sweep down, and the poignant voice of glory will call for me from the distance--and I'll have to jump out of bed and set out alone."

And the horn quote for reference (pg. 13):

"The universal order at last achieved, thanks to the sudden, screaming horn, had revealed an ineluctable circle of life--the cards had paired: Noboru and mother--mother and man--man and sea--sea and Noboru."


message 15: by Lynecia (new)

Lynecia (luvnecia) Based on the articles that Conrad shared prior to starting this book, I think there is a lot of Mishima himself in Ryuji. I don't know if I'm reaching too much, but I'm excited to see how his personal ideals and convictions he wrote into this novel.


message 16: by Tina (new)

Tina Huntz (lectito) | 11 comments Conrad wrote: "You’ll notice that Mishima presents this character to us as a peeping tom. A person who employs behaviors that are generally uncomfortable for people and frowned upon. In a brilliant way, Mishima h..."

This is my first time discussing a book with this much analytic thinking and english is not my native language, so bear with me while I try to make some sense of it all. (I'm a science major btw, so I might take things quite literally sometimes).
I don't feel that Noboru is looking at his mother to search for knowledge, in fact he says that he only does it when she is not gentle, to spite her, as a form of revenge and rebelion, there is also a moment of realization when Noburo ask himself what was the purpose of that hole during the army occupation of the house, and he feels disgusted by it. The fact that the room changes completely depending on his location (whether he is looking through the chest or inside the bedroom), one could be read as his first glance at adult life (unaware at first) and the other one as his memories as a child. The peephole thus becomes a look into the future, where femininity and masculinity are blooming, also we I see the blue and grey tones in the room as a direct reference to water and the sea, something that Ryuji also acknowledges later on, comparing women with the ocean and his vessel as himself.

This is what I have gotten so far, I need to reread the first chapter, to see if I can spy the references to death, because I have not managed to break through those yet. I know I'm barely scraping the surface of the chapter but I wanted to give my two cents about it.


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Gosh, so many amazing comments and things I hadn't considered which is exactly why I created this group. Thanks so much for sharing your opinions and comments!!!


message 18: by Lynecia (new)

Lynecia (luvnecia) What does everyone think of Fusako?!


message 19: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:04PM) (new)

Spite isn’t mentioned. Though one can certainly draw a spiteful reaction from it since it is mentioned that he only does it on the evenings she treats him differently.

It’s unclear what his real motivation is. I like that it’s left open to interpret. I perceived it (along with his inner dialogues) that he was searching for some kind of glimpse of a world outside himself. This is incidental, of course. Maybe he was just purely being a brat and nosey and spying at first but he soon felt more intrigued by the things he saw. I feel like Mishima is sort of mocking Noboru’s naiveté in this first chapter. He fashions him as this almost adult-like character when it’s almost darkly comedic that his mother is locking him in his room at night (and so, still has parental control over him.)

To me, this shows how potentially dangerous the child is. Since he does view himself as so far advanced and in the conclusion of the chapter feels he's been enlightened in some sense.


message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:07PM) (new)

William wrote: "I hope I can write about both Ch's 1 and 2. What struck me in Chapters One and Two is how the difference between microcosm and macrocosm become blurred in two instances. In the 1st Chapter Noboru l..."

I love the idea of this macro/microcosm. And I certainly agree with the sea being/feeling like a living entity and I love how you said it wanted to "join in", although Mishima writes it in a more macabre sense that the sea is hungrily searching for anything living to suck at. I'm sure we can all agree that this is a highly interesting and somewhat intense first chapter.


message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:13PM) (new)

I’ve received some emails that people are just now beginning the book (since their copies just arrived) so I’m leaving this thread for Chapters 1 and 2. I’ve opened a new thread for Chapters 3 and 4.

Once again, I'm encouraging everyone to join in on the discussion!


message 22: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:21PM) (new)

I feel like she's keeping him locked up at night because of his activity with the local gang of boys. It also suggests that she does not have exactly the best judgement and or any real control over him. It has to be literal, i.e., locking him in.

As for Noboru, as with the peeping, it certainly leans toward him not having any real respect for his mother.


message 23: by Whitney (new)

Whitney Borup | 14 comments Just opened this book (from the library) and there's a squished raisin inside. So ..... pretty good omen.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Whitney wrote: "Just opened this book (from the library) and there's a squished raisin inside. So ..... pretty good omen."

Only good if it has sunglasses and dances.


message 25: by Beata (new)

Beata (ma_ruda) | 8 comments Conrad wrote: "Spite isn’t mentioned. Though one can certainly draw a spiteful reaction from it since it is mentioned that he only does it on the evenings she treats him differently."
The whole situation starts with; "in need of something to vent his spite on [after being left alone at home], Noboru began to rummage throuh his room". So there's definitely some resentment against his mother.
Zineb wrote: "Just like her son, I can't pinpoint what, but there's something that bothered me about her. Maybe the fact that she locks up her son every night made me inconfortable and trying to find what she's hiding from us. "
The first paragraph of chapter one states literally that locking up was Noboru's fault, because he was sneaking out at night, and it was mother's last hope to exact some control over him. She had nothing to hide rigth to this moment - it was clearly stated that meeting Ryuji was a revelation to her, sort of awakening.
In my understanding peeping was sexual for Noboru (he watched his mother masturbate and trembled, and so on).
But the big theme that Mishima is building in first chapters is - for me - the analogy between the three characters (like when both Noboru and Ryuji think about mother's shoulders line as shoreline or both mother and son contemplating emptiness). And every one of them has his/hers decisive moment (discovering the hole, meeting the sailor, hearing the siren). Now it slowly unfolds...


message 26: by Whitney (new)

Whitney Borup | 14 comments I think it's really interesting that we are all so fascinated with Noboru's voyeurism and trying to label it (punishment or revenge, sexual or nonsexual, aesthetic or curiosity). There seems to be a disinterestedness in his looking - or at least an attempt to look with a disinterested eye (a theme I see cropping up in the first half of this book a lot). I wanted to go back to the passage that Dylan posted about Noboru being convinced of his own genius and understanding his father's death as "something to be proud of." I don't think he actually looks for deeper meaning in his voyeurism - I think the voyeurism is a way to avoid meaning. It seems like death, for Noboru, is not only inevitable, but also a rejection of the kind of cause and effect logic that "society" imposes.

So I think Noboru is interested in surfaces rather than depth. That a good death for Noboru is a death that is insistent on physical reality rather than symbolism. And that looking through that peephole is a way for him to see his mother as a physical, aesthetic object rather than a mother.

But when the text says that "Noboru was convinced of his own genius..." that seems like a more ironic view of a both Noboru and his genius. Maybe a rejection of this kind of disinterest.


message 27: by William (last edited Mar 05, 2016 10:51AM) (new)

William Baker | 25 comments Whitney wrote: "I think it's really interesting that we are all so fascinated with Noboru's voyeurism and trying to label it (punishment or revenge, sexual or nonsexual, aesthetic or curiosity). There seems to be ..." I resonate very much with your idea that Noboru's interest lies in "a rejection of the kind of cause and effect logic that 'society' imposes." I find his conviction of his own genius and his pride in the death of his father difficult to understand. Maybe Mishima wants to make it difficult for us and makes a nice split between logic and coherence, a split most unusual and uncultivated to our mind for the past, say, 200 years, since the Age of Enlightenment.


message 28: by Tina (new)

Tina Huntz (lectito) | 11 comments Do you guys think there is a similitude between the fact that Ryuji thinks he is a true man or the only man because he doesn't have a family and the fact that Noboru feels pride in his father's death? That somehow death and loneliness are requisites for masculinity?


message 29: by Ioana (last edited Mar 06, 2016 12:35AM) (new)

Ioana | 8 comments After reading the first chapter all I could think about was that this moment of revelation he is experiencing is the moment when life is turned into art. Maybe this meta vibe i'm feeling is wrong and the rest of the book won't support it, but there are several little clues that pointed to that for me:
- the idea of peeping into someone's life/room but only when the mother is not gentle to him, when she doesn't play the role of the mother fulfilling enough for him? when he is not emotional connected to her making the voyueristic act non-sexual because he is watching a stranger
- the way he sees the room different from the chest and the shock he has when he steps into it (reality is not as fulfilling as imagination)
-after having visual access to this "chamber" (forbidden to him and different from the room where he was scolded or helped, acknowledged by his mother) he now has gained the ability to transfigure it "into a gorgeous place" because he now has the "power" not only "the finest materials", is he becoming a creator?
Maybe I am waaaay waaay stretching it.


message 30: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 06, 2016 12:08AM) (new)

Tina wrote: "Do you guys think there is a similitude between the fact that Ryuji thinks he is a true man or the only man because he doesn't have a family and the fact that Noboru feels pride in his father's dea..."

Ryuji definitely has a solipsistic worldview.

He does seem to be willing to expand it more after meeting Fusako.


message 31: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 06, 2016 12:35AM) (new)

Ioana wrote: "After reading the first chapter all I could think about was that this moment of revelation he is experiencing is the moment when life it's turned into art. Maybe this meta vibe i'm feeling is wrong..."

I don’t know but I like that you brought up how Noboro feels the room is totally different looking/feeling when he’s physically inside it compared to when he’s viewing it. I’m not exactly sure what that means, metaphorically. There’s a lot of contradiction and psychology in this first chapter. We must assume it is intentional and open for interpretation.

I'd like to talk more about the passage

"The universal
order at last achieved, thanks to the sudden, screaming
horn, had revealed an ineluctable circle of life - the cards
had paired: Noboru and mother - mother and man -
man and sea- sea and Noboru ..."

where, during Noboro's epiphany what is the significance of making these pairings or connections?


message 32: by Ioana (new)

Ioana | 8 comments Conrad wrote: "Ioana wrote: "After reading the first chapter all I could think about was that this moment of revelation he is experiencing is the moment when life it's turned into art. Maybe this meta vibe i'm fe..."

The cards are obviously the actants of the story. Whose role is what at this point we can only assume (I'm wondering if the story is Noboru's at this point, like the first chapter seems to point out). Maybe the deck will randomly fell and reveal those roles, it is stated that they are "prophesying nothing". But at the same time the circle of life is "ineluctuable" so the idea of destiny waltzes in. The characters just met their destiny and the narrative will just reveal this like the deck of cards revealed the pairings.
All the elements that bring out the epiphany are "assembled", says the text.
I have this feeling of a greater power mixing the deck (I won't say God, more like a Demiurge) and assigning roles.
Why I say that? As Noboru is spying on his mother and we get his narrative perspective he is not the one telling the story. We have a third-person narrator whose voice, at times, slides onto Noboru's. In this particular paragraph, Noboru seems to be spied by, too. He is just a chess piece, not the chess player, meeting his destiny of being part of the story.
I don't know why the element that ties them all together is the horn and not something else. Maybe because it comes from the sea, maybe it is an omen. Do the pairings reveal rivalry or symbiosis? I have no idea.

For now I will just let myself get lost in the story cause this first chapter made me over-analyse things at the point I became obsessed a little bit with the idea of this opposition between life and art and all the symbolism and the intended choice of words. And it is all speculation because I have no idea what the book will be about :))


message 33: by Omar (new)

Omar | 9 comments Any thoughts on the second chapter?
One of the major things that snatched my attention was that the mother said that she had a feeling that Noboru knows about her affair with the sailor. I also have a question. Other than loneliness, why do guys think the mother is sleeping with a guy that compares her to a Chinese prostitute?


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

Ioana wrote: "Conrad wrote: "Ioana wrote: "After reading the first chapter all I could think about was that this moment of revelation he is experiencing is the moment when life it's turned into art. Maybe this m..."

This was a great post, thanks.


message 35: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 06, 2016 10:07AM) (new)

Omar wrote: "Any thoughts on the second chapter?
One of the major things that snatched my attention was that the mother said that she had a feeling that Noboru knows about her affair with the sailor. I also ha..."


My favorite line in the book (so far) comes from chapter two.

"He longed for a storm."

he wants change, he wants something to upset his world, I think?
He's very steadfast and locked in his opinions and beliefs but he is CLEARLY not content with them. Fusako, in his mind, is his doomed lover, his storm. What we realize is that it's probably Noboru and not Fusako. And definitely not the kind of storm he wanted.

What's interesting is the things we learn about Ryuji's personal pet peeves and such, we learn he was not popular on the ship with other sailors; he goes on a tangent of search of how much he despises idle meaningless chatter. Yet, the only thing he can ever say to Fusako is empty, meaningless chatter.

His self-proclaimed destiny of glory is similar to Noboro's epiphany at the tail end of Chapter 1.

I feel an overwhelming since of loneliness in Ryuji. An inability to ever connect. But unlike Noboru, the wish to seems to be there.

Another thing I feel we're all looking over (or not) is that we are already semi-aware that this book will end tragically for Ryuji (i.e., The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea) so there's a sort of a
pumping of the brakes towards this fate.


message 36: by Omar (new)

Omar | 9 comments Conrad wrote: "Omar wrote: "Any thoughts on the second chapter?
One of the major things that snatched my attention was that the mother said that she had a feeling that Noboru knows about her affair with the sail..."


lol, If this is the case then the author should have picked a less spoilery title for his novel.


message 37: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleenvaldes) | 7 comments Conrad wrote: "Yes, it's certainly voyeuristic and discomforting but there is no inclination that Noboru is turned on by spying. Instead, he seems to be a person obsessed with gathering meaningful ideas. There's ..."
Has anyone else noticed how the author describes everything by telling us what color it is? I noticed this almost right away. Any thoughts on this use of color every where?


message 38: by Lynecia (new)

Lynecia (luvnecia) Kathleen, I didn't notice that! I'll be on the lookout for that as I continue to read.


message 39: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen (kathleenvaldes) | 7 comments I will be interested to see if certain colors begin to symbolize certain things and if this becomes consistent throughout.


message 40: by Danielle (new)

Danielle  (danidanydanie) Kathleen wrote: "I will be interested to see if certain colors begin to symbolize certain things and if this becomes consistent throughout."

Gah, the discussion is so good! I have nothing to add. Great observation, Kathleen!


message 41: by Kyla (new)

Kyla | 2 comments I am trying to keep up with everybody! It appears there are many layers to this book. For what it is worth, I interpreted the horn sequence in Chapter 1 as a moment accentuating the power Noboru is lording over Fusako and Ryuji as well as Noboru's deeper sense of understanding that the three players are linked perhaps in a destiny leading up to death, which he has established as all important in his philosophy.


message 42: by Charlie (new)

Charlie (cwjh) I don't have much to add to the discussions above at this point in time but I do want to say that I perceived Noboru's peeking as just an act of innocence and immaturity.

One thing that I still don't quite get is the difference from the room through the hole vs the room when is in there. What does this signify to you?

I found chapter 1 really excellent and it was a great introduction to all three characters.


message 43: by Christa (new)

Christa Pg. 16 "Ryuji hated the immobility of the land, the eternally unchanging surfaces. But a ship was another kind of prison."


message 44: by Olga (new)

Olga (hildalev) | 1 comments Chapter 1

I have a lot of thoughts on it and sometimes mistakes in English, so bear with me!

We have here a 13 year old boy, who, like I imagine many 13 year old boys do, likes all that us forbidden. He climbs out the window to see his gang, he reads I books tucked away and of course when he fins a peephole into his his mother's bedroom that he is not allowed to visit any more (he is too old), he can't resist to peek. It was a bit disturbing to read about him watching his mother naked and masturbating, but I think it is not described as a sexual experience. He is rather fascinated by her beauty, he is fascinated by a female body he sees closely for the first time. The passage with moonlight and ugliness may be connected to this. P 8-9.

That he does it on days he is not gentle to him for me has nothing to do with spite. It is because of spite he first discovered the peephole, wanting to make a mess in his room. But from the moment he looked into the hole, it was a desire to have a closer connection to his mother. He is not a little boy anymore, but he still wishes he were close to his mother. He pretended to play with the ships to go into her room, he tries to get the gentleness and connection he didn't get during the day by looking at her at night. And he cannot fall asleep if he is not looking. Ant the first night he sees another man in the room, he looses the connection. He calls it an ungentle night.

The words that caught my eye were: “he vowed never do anything that might attract the grownups' attention to the chest”. P 6. Was he at that point already planning to use it often? Was he ashamed of what he did? Or was it that he didn't want his mother to think about that the soldiers watched her?

As for the difference between when he looked at the room through the peephole and when he was actually in the room, I think a space always look different, depending on where we look at it from. When he looked at the room from the peephole, it was a forbidden chamber with all its attributes. When he was actually in the room, it lost the element of secrecy, but he was overwhelmed by memories connected to the room. Because he stood on the same place when these memories were created.

I like Mishima's detailed description of objects very much. I also think a person who knows more about Japan in that time period can say a lot about these people looking at the things they have and wear.

I am a bit confused by this one: “On those nights, mistaking the crimson nails for blood, Noboru trembled”. P 7. It doesn't really look like some sort of sexual pleasure connected to blood. Was he afraid that she hurt herself?

The story of the first chapter culminates in the figure of Tsukazaki. Her seems to us through Noboru's eyes like a god or an old warrior, in his armor of muscles and gold light on his shoulders, the man Noboru himself wants to be, with a heart as an anchor, with his erection, a symbol of strength and masculinity in every culture. And Noboru is just a kid, hidden in the chest of drawers, surrounded by emptiness and ugliness of the world.

I think, the horn is like an emphasis, the culmination point. But I have to think about it more.


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