“Aghwee the Sky Monster” is one of Kenzabur e’s first stories about children born with mental defects, written after his own son was born in 1963 with a cranial defect that would cause mental disability. In the story, the father, D, succumbs to traditional Japanese pressures and prejudices against raising a mentally disabled child and lets his newborn son starve to death. This is in stark contrast to e’s own decision to love and raise his disabled son. D’s baby returns as a ghost and ultimately drives D to suicide, creating a haunting tale about the grave consequences of a father being unable to face the responsibility of raising a seriously disabled child.
The story opens as the unnamed narrator reflects back to a time ten years earlier. Then entering college, he is interviewed by a rich banker. The overbearing man is looking for a companion to keep scandal away from his twenty-eight-year-old son, the composer D, who has become obsessed with the idea that he is living with a monster. Once a week, the narrator is to accompany D on his wanderings throughout Tokyo.
When meeting D, the narrator is told that there is a being in the sky that is invisible to all people but him. Occasionally, it comes down to D when he is in the open. D asks the narrator not to act startled in such a case. The latter agrees. Toward the end of their first day, D acts as if he has an invisible companion while they are part of a crowd watching the frenzied solitary dance of an old businessperson.
The narrator asks D’s nurse about the composer’s monster. With clear contempt, the nurse explains that it is a huge baby as big as a kangaroo, dressed in a white cotton nightgown and afraid of dogs and...
(The entire section is 703 words.)