World Literature Essay In The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, Yukio Mishima portrays the intense and progressive development of his central character, Noboru, with the onset of adolescence. While the story takes place, particularly revolving around the interactions between Fusako and Ryuji as a couple, Noboru begins to embrace his adolescent nature and finds his own path in life. Adopting a lifestyle of “objectivity”, (49) the personal and external conflicts of Noboru’s life often question whether his indifference towards the world is reasonable (57).
In his text, the author’s treatment of Noboru’s transformation can be examined on the basis of maturation, social conventions, and psychological factors in the deficiency of family dynamics. Maturity in life as well as in this novel plays a huge part in the development of character. As humans encounter the changes from a child to an adult, the period of adolescence is always one that cannot be forgotten. Rebellious nature and “phases” of lifestyle often occur which drives the youth to commit irrational actions.
Thirteen-year-old boy Noboru has reached a milestone in his life where he faces challenges and additions to his life. Growing up under his mother’s wing due to his father passing away years ago, he has grown indifferent towards the world and is convinced of his own genius which firmly mounts his principles (Mishima 8). Building onto his development as a young adult, curiosity begins to implore Noboru to do the unthinkable in instances such as peeping through a hole that reveals his mother’s room (Mishima 10).
Witnessing affairs such as sexual intercourse between his mother and Ryuji, the once idealized sailor becomes a traitor to Noboru thus disregarding everything he made the sailor out to be. As described by the chief, maturity is defined as perversion. This constant “betrayal” affects Noboru negatively and gives him no other option but to continue believing in objectivity as his prime source of logic that won’t let him down. With a shift in mentality such as this, it’s not hard to accept the fact that his step towards maturity is one that’s corrupted (Mishima 181).
Besides natural phases and instinctive processes taking effective positions in Noboru’s development, his frequent gatherings with his “cult” are responsible for his quiet but violent nature. Social conventions with the gang and him alter his personality throughout the novel. In the beginning of the novel, Noboru begins to describe the life of an “objectionist”, one who denies subjective reality, especially in perspective of adults, simply dismissing them as spurious and elusive (Mishima 8). With his belief in objectivity, he begins to experience life in a different hue.
For example, the slaughtering of the innocent cat as a test of willpower (Mishima 61) serves as a crucial point in that novel that offers a revelation to Noboru: “I can do anything, no matter how awful. ” A realization such as this leads into bigger events in the novel such as the luring of Ryuji into his doom (Mishima 169). In doing so Noboru grows heartless, savage, and reconfirms his indifference towards the world. Psychology in this novel is possibly the biggest factor revolving around character development in The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea.
From Ryuji’s transformation from a sailor to a father in the Summer and Winter parts of the novel to Fusako being a single mother turned married wife, it’s no doubt that Noboru changed as well. In the premise of the novel, Noboru is introduced as a thirteen-year-old boy living under a roof supported by his mother who owns a luxury boutique store. With his father passing away five years ago, Noboru has grown up only under his mother’s influence (Mishima 8). Lacking the male figure that usually guides the boy, the struggle for “happiness” in Noboru has led to his acceptance of objectivity in place of it.
With no father figure present during his childhood, Mishima presents this as the foundation for Noboru’s ulterior motives later on in the plot. The deficiency of family dynamics is stark within this novel. With no authority being put upon Noboru, it allows him to be irrational and wild. However, since he is a self-proclaimed genius, his freedom is spent in silence that later transitions into his ulterior motives. With the introduction of Second Mate Ryuji Tsukazaki into the life of the Kuroda family, it catalyzes character development.
Fusako, Noboru’s mother, begins to rekindle her love life and later on marries Ryuji. Noboru on the other hand, idealizes Tsukazaki as liberal, masculine, disciplined, and without weak effeminate characteristics. With praise to Ryuji as his new “male figure”, it psychologically develops a sense of attachment and appreciation for him. Such instances occurred when Ryuji came back from his duties at sea and brought back a present for Noboru. Typically, the boy would be indifferent towards such a generous act given his nature but he responded in a sense of excitement (Mishima 102).
With emotions conflicting inside Noboru, it develops a feeling of acceptance and reformats the family dynamics within the Kuroda household (Mishima 144). Ryuji, however, begins to grow soft due to newly being a father. This course of action labels him as a “fallen hero” among Noboru and his gang. With a brutal discussion about fathers such as “fathers are evil itself, laden with everything ugly in Man”, it presents the idea of “making Ryuji a hero again (Mishima 136). ” A meeting like this with the cult of objectionists alters Noboru’s mentality further on into the novel.
With a final betrayal from Ryuji due to the sailor acting in a fatherly manner, Noboru confirms that his once praised hero is hopeless (Mishima 158). This last test of redemption that fails leads to the disappointment in Noboru, following up with the chief’s plan to make Ryuji a hero again. The psychological factors at play constantly reshape within Noboru. With each “betrayal” from Ryuji, Noboru mentally notes them and his anger builds up within. When it finally reaches a maximum limit, Noboru’s objectionist philosophy is put into full initiative.
The life of the once heroic sailor is ended with an ironic finale (Mishima 181). In a gist, Noboru Kuroda’s transformation throughout the novel has simply been abominable. From the premise of innocence to the macabre product of what he has become, the thirteen-year-old boy could not be blamed for his actions. Through being put in the onset of maturity while struggling with his social conventions as well as the ongoing psychological factors regarding his deficiency in family dynamics; the corruption of Noboru in his coming of age is well described by Mishima in his novel.
Yukio’s usage of death as being “perfect” (Mishima 61) provides an eerie atmosphere for the reader as his central character deals with the ire provided by his life. Brilliantly composed, Mishima’s psychological analysis in The Sailor who fell from Grace with The Sea is one that is terrifically splendid. Works Cited Mishima, Yukio. The Sailor who fell from Grace with the Sea. New York City: Vintage Books, 1965. Print.
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