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DISCUSSION THREAD | Chapters 3 - 4 (Part One: Summer)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 01:11PM) (new)

For those who have moved past the first two chapters.

Thoughts?


message 2: by Lynecia (new)

Lynecia (luvnecia) So this is where we get to know Fusako a bit more. She's a business owner, of a high end boutique and it seems like she's just been going through the motions of life since her husband died and not really feeling much of anything. Being a dutiful, but probably a bit detached mother.
The day at the boat, seemed like a turning point for her, an awakening.
P.28 "Thinking about it later, Fusako realized that she had felt her heart begin to dance even as they had stood looking at the shop. That's funny: I'm just as excited as Noboru."
As she feels herself attracted to Ryuji, all those sensations are described so pointedly and specifically, and she's flustered around him.
The chapter ends with her saying that she has t even spent that much time talking to a man since her husband died.


message 3: by William (new)

William Baker | 25 comments If Ch. 1 is a presentation of Noboru and his thoughts, Ch. 2 of Ryuji and his thoughts, then Ch. 3 is about Fusako and her thoughts. And feelings.
Fusako's character is difficult for me and what I'm going say about her does not stand on solid foundation.
I think there is a key sentence in Ch. 3 about Fusako and it is uttered by Yoriko. "The important things are the boxes and wrapping - they're the reality of a gift, don't you think?" Fusako is selling clothes to wrap people and their lives and reality in them. She is the one who provides form to force. If Noburu and Ryuji in chapters 1-2 are presented as seekers of the elemental Force of life, Fusako is the one who provides Form. This kind of Form is not superficial. It is part of the "stuff" of our reality just as Force. Nature and nurture. Or nature and culture hand in hand. Both are immense potencies. And both are feminine. Sometimes rivals, sometimes complementary to each other, and probably we can never know when they are which. Between these feminine principles are the characters inserted, and they don't have and easy ride.


message 4: by William (new)

William Baker | 25 comments So Mishima might go against a Yin/Yang view and pick up the ancient omnipontent Mother myth, the book's title having already stated "who's boss" here. In this view masculinity is part of the Great Mother, not juxtaposed to Her.


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 03, 2016 11:17PM) (new)

Great points, Victoria and William. I’m going to think about what you’ve both written and respond later today.

I just wanted to ask --- What did everyone think about how chapter four ends?
You basically have three initial chapters which cast a very gauzy, dream-like quality as we drift through these characters thoughts and in the middle of one of the thickest dreams - Noboro cuts into the narrative and asks the sailor such a random question about his wet shirt.
It was a very jarring moment for me. Completely rips you out of the daydream quality of Ryuji's wandering.

It felt so OMINOUS to me. As if the entire mood changed. Before I felt like I was meandering with the sailor through the streets as he waited for his date. I could feel the heat and the stickiness and I was contemplating all of his ideas and thoughts and then, bam, Noboru appeared in this really unsettling way.

Do you recall earlier in the novel when Ryuji said he longed for a storm? I felt like Mishima made a thunderclap of an impending storm in that sequence.

Did anyone else experience that feeling? Or was it just me? Lol.


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol Conrad wrote: "Great points, Victoria and William. I’m going to think about what you’ve both written and respond later today.

I just wanted to ask --- What did everyone think about how chapter four ends?
You ba..."


I thought it was like an omen! I wasn't too sure if I was just imagining things or if I was totally off base. It was an interruption that seemed almost as if he was accusing him of something much more serious. Like a wet shirt was a serious crime or something.


message 7: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 04, 2016 11:40AM) (new)

To Ryuji, it was just a random and weird question. But to us, we know that Noboru spies on them. And may have felt like the wet shirt indicated he had missed seeing something. Very creepy.

The significance of the car speeding over the hill and then the boys appearing behind it puts into question their innocence. Perhaps they weren't just hanging around on the street like kids playing. Maybe the distressed car signaled that.


message 8: by Beata (new)

Beata (ma_ruda) | 8 comments I'm inclined to think about Fusako in analogy to the sea, and the metaphor that Victoria cited (about sea - a woman, and ship - a man) for me shows women strength. Also don't find her shallow - yes, she is thinking about Ryuji, but who could blame her? Her husband died 5 years ago and she was focused on being mother and businesswoman and now her sensual side finally awakes, but even this I find intelectual, not just reactional (scene with cranes).
I wouldn't also be that harsh for Ryuji, for me, when he is thinking Fusako is "just another body" he's trying to convince himself of that, a bit because he couldn't convey to her what he really wanted to say, what he longed for.


message 9: by Tara Tatum (new)

Tara Tatum | 9 comments I agree with Ma-Ruda. I do not find Fusako to be shallow, I find her to be enchanted with a new man after five years of being alone, five of years of focusing on only her business and being a mother. Of course all she can think about is this new man who has abruptly entered her life. I also agree that Ryuji was only trying to convince himself that Fusako was "just another body" as admitting his true feelings to himself would have conflicted with everything he believed in at that point.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Ma-ruda wrote: "I'm inclined to think about Fusako in analogy to the sea, and the metaphor that Victoria cited (about sea - a woman, and ship - a man) for me shows women strength. Also don't find her shallow - yes..."

I agree with you. I didn’t find Fusako to be shallow either. I feel like I can understand what Victoria meant but it wasn't something I felt shafted from in her chapter. I felt like she was as equally reminiscent and longing as the two males.

That her thoughts are centered around Ryuji are purely coincidental since the frame of reference is her reliving their first encounter. What struck me about Fusako is that she shares much of the same sort of emptiness that both Ryuji and Noboro exhibit in their sections - she just hides it better. She tends to her son, she tends to her business, she smiles and agrees with people even though inside she has a hollowness that bugs her. I thought the sequence where she watches the sailors use the cranes to lift cargo from the ship was harrowing, she remarked on how empty and emptier the room was becoming.

There’s definitely a sexualization of the sea. Quite literally, Ryuji’s fucking the sea and the sky when he loses his virginity and Noboro also has the moment in Chapter One
where the sea seems to join them all.

The thing that’s puzzling me a bit (or not puzzling, but just intriguing me)is Ryuji’s masculinity and how he consistently perceives and comments of himself as being the only living man. He doesn’t really seem like an asshole. It seems to be more of a wound than any kind of real ego. Even his consideration of Fusako seems to be some sort of fatal chess move from the universe. When he imagines them uniting from their corners of the world to submerge under the ocean into their death is hardly romantic. But I also felt like I understood what he was saying/thinking.

Mishima’s language and metaphors are gorgeous and elegiac. The writing seems to pivot the characters towards a fate that will surely swallow them and they are mostly sleepwalking toward it.


message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 04, 2016 05:35PM) (new)

Ma-ruda wrote: "I'm inclined to think about Fusako in analogy to the sea, and the metaphor that Victoria cited (about sea - a woman, and ship - a man) for me shows women strength. Also don't find her shallow - yes..."

I loved the sequence where Ryuji tells us everything he thought and wanted to say to Fusako compared to what he did actually say. That's so true to life. We can often never find the words. Or the courage to say them exactly how we feel them.


message 12: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 04, 2016 07:28PM) (new)

Another great post, V!

I totally see that misogyny. But, I can’t exactly slight the novel for it (yet) as I feel as you say we’re not sure where it’s going. I also am not sure if the problems you have with the writing of the central female were changed the story would have the same effects.

For one, it was spontaneous - her invitation to dine. It didn’t seem like she gave it any thought.
I felt that this signified she was on some sort of pause until they met which is the same position he was in. Or in just as much of a cocoon of mundanity as Ryuji. I’m not sure if strengthening her section of the novel (or giving her these views on life, love, sex or death) would do anything to advance our ideas of her as a more complete woman. Maybe in some ways, with what her section focused on - it wouldn't have really even worked.

This, of course, being that I don’t find Ryuji as a complete man, either. As I said in C1&2 discussion, I do think Mishima is almost darkly humorous about their naiveties. I feel this is what makes Noboru seem so shadowy and potentially dangerous.

Basically, we know that Ryuji used to be enchanted with sailing and grew despondent and has felt adrift since. We know how he lost his virginity and what he's been working as. We don't know much else about him or Fusako. Beyond that their paths have crossed and they've decided to make a go of it.

We know that she also feels this same disconnect. She’s been tending to her customers and prides herself on the high-end novelties of her shop and the connections she makes in the industry. She seems to ignore (somewhat) that Noboru is out of her control. We still see her being motherly toward him, taking him to the ships and she even winces somewhat at the sailor’s dismissal of the fantasy since she sees her son expresses a genuine interest. That fact that she has to physically lock him in a room at night is very out-of-sight-out-of-mind and I feel that thats necessary. Her lack of control may prove to be fundamental in what propels Noboro later in the story.

Where I would agree with you is in the slight way she responds to Ryuji. She just seems to agree (a little too eagerly) with everything he says. He even seems irritated by it. But, we know this isn’t unlike her in other aspects of her life as she sort of indifferently agrees with the actress and other people she interacts with, not excluding her son even. I’m not sure how this would diminish her as a woman since it does seem to be a deliberate choice by Mishima to present her in this way. I feel like if she hadn’t been sort of a diminutive person then her offering the invite to dinner so spontaneously wouldn’t have been such a moment for her to cross over and cherish in some way. She seems perplexed and entertained by it.
In other words, it’s something out of her character. In this way, “Fate” seems to be something that is trailing her as much as it’s trailing the others.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Iva wrote: "I find it really interesting how Mishima gives so much attention to the description of the details in the shop. You cant totally tell he loves dem european goods (I can almost see him walking aroun..."

I really enjoyed Mishima's description of the shop as well.


message 14: by William (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:32PM) (new)

William Baker | 25 comments This is a crazy book and you are invited to play along. Well then, I have something crazy to say. If Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games) could wear fire at one point, Ryuji is certainly not allowed to wear water. Water can be drunk, sailed and soiled, and even fucked, but never ever worn by of someone's own choice. It's a taboo. (You are only allowed to be passively soaked by rain or splashes of the sea, etc.) Ryuji actively unites the symbols of the principles of force (water) and form (shirt), and it's either that he's not entitled to do that or nobody else either, but he broke the taboo, and being nice and all that will not counterbalance the mishap. (I expected that the story about clothes and their shop, Rex, to end in Ch. 3, but here we have again, at the end of Ch. 4, the importance of clothes. Their importance is also stressed by their international elegance and the shop's name, Rex, which is "king" in Latin. They are not just ritzy trifles.)


message 15: by George (new)

George (georgejazz) I have found the above comments very interesting. I hope I haven't gone over issues already discussed.

There are no grandparents to help to educate and provide guidance to Noboro. Is Mishima suggesting a lack of normal Japanese family relationships and support that goes with extended families will produce unsociable young adults? Fusako, as an independant Japanese woman in the 1950s seems to be unanswerable to anyone. She can do what she likes. Noboro seems to have a lot of freedom because Fusako is a businesswoman. Is Mishima making the point that a woman's place is in the home? (I am making this comment given that back in the 1960s, (from what I have read), Japanese men acted in a fairly dominant and chauvinistic manner - for example, Mr. Shibuya. I was surprised to learn that Japanese women became eligible to vote in a political election in 1946.)


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

George wrote: "I have found the above comments very interesting. I hope I haven't gone over issues already discussed.

There are no grandparents to help to educate and provide guidance to Noboro. Is Mishima sugge..."



I don't personally take the story that way but I could see if others do.


message 17: by William (last edited Mar 06, 2016 05:04AM) (new)

William Baker | 25 comments Victoria wrote: "After four chapters, my overall impression of this book is that it is beautifully written, and I'm enjoying the richness of the inner lives expressed through the characters of Noboru and Ryuji, but..." I feel that Fusako is left a little in the background, or having a "lack of control," but not in a negative sense. Aside a few instances of brooding (e.g. over the crane unloading shipment) she is not troubled, nearly as much as the male characters. She is an icon of the eternally natural, feminine principle that doesn't have to prove itself. It is much more about Being than Doing or achieving. It is the males in this book that are doomed to strive and succeed and prove themselves. I remember now another feminine icon, Martha Stewart, who said, "I do what I please and I do it with ease." Well, these are my impressions, and I might be wrong, too.


message 18: by Omar (new)

Omar | 9 comments I can understand Noboru's antipathy for Ryuji. The thing I don't quite get is why did the sailor bathe in the fountain at the park. Is this some sort of a symbol or metaphor?


message 19: by Carol (new)

Carol Omar wrote: "I can understand Noboru's antipathy for Ryuji. The thing I don't quite get is why did the sailor bathe in the fountain at the park. Is this some sort of a symbol or metaphor?"

I'm not sure if his actual using of the fountain in the symbolism we're supposed to be noticing. I think Noboru's reaction to Ryuji being wet or having wet clothes is the focus. (I could be way off though)


message 20: by Omar (new)

Omar | 9 comments Carol wrote: "Omar wrote: "I can understand Noboru's antipathy for Ryuji. The thing I don't quite get is why did the sailor bathe in the fountain at the park. Is this some sort of a symbol or metaphor?"

I'm not..."


Ryuji should be the mad one since Noboru was supposed to go swimming, but instead he found him hanging out with his friends. I think this proves that Ryuji doesn't care a bit about Noboru and sundry other things The Chief discusses in the upcoming chapters.


message 21: by Hilary (new)

Hilary Hanselman | 3 comments I love how water is used to convey so many different messages. Noboru's abrupt reaction to Ryuji's wet shirt seems to foreshadow the way he will interpret the fact that Ryuji has fallen in love with his mother. I think about Ryuji's description of riding the water while being denied the ability to become a part of it, and here he is, soaked in water after thinking about how Fusako may be his great love. There is something deadly in that image, and perhaps this is why Noboru feels such shock at seeing him this way.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Omar wrote: "Carol wrote: "Omar wrote: "I can understand Noboru's antipathy for Ryuji. The thing I don't quite get is why did the sailor bathe in the fountain at the park. Is this some sort of a symbol or metap..."

To be fair, he only just met Noboru.


message 23: by Omar (new)

Omar | 9 comments Conrad wrote: "Omar wrote: "Carol wrote: "Omar wrote: "I can understand Noboru's antipathy for Ryuji. The thing I don't quite get is why did the sailor bathe in the fountain at the park. Is this some sort of a sy..."

After reading later chapters, I think he was chagrined by the sailor's witless acts.


message 24: by Ioana (last edited Mar 09, 2016 02:39PM) (new)

Ioana | 8 comments Why it had to be a kitten? I am so heart-broken...

All these comments are pure gold, opening up so many ways of seeing the text, I love it!
What I find interesting in chapter 4 is that Fuako seems to be presented in opposition to the sea as maybe falling in love with her will divert Ryuji from the path of glory he imagines for himself Also, Noboru seems to think of him like heroic, he is fascinated by him. A fascination the chief is shutting down immediately, there's no such thing as hero, I guess the gang defines itself in terms of nihilism.


message 25: by Ioana (new)

Ioana | 8 comments Sorry, I just realised the kitten is in another chapter (got confused as I started reading the chapters paired differently), but I did not spoil anything.


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