How is the search for identity present in When I Whistle?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The search for identity is very much a key factor in helping us to understand Endo's purpose for writing this story. Endo explores the difference between Japan during the war and present day Japan through investigating the lives of Ozu and Eiichi, his son. In a sense, Endo has written this novel to help express the identity of the new Japan that has been birthed out of the ashes of destruction of World War II and the two atom bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The depressing answer can be found in Endo's depiction of Eiichi and his ruthless nature. Eiichi is shown to be blind to the lessons that needed to be learnt through the war, and seeks to extend the same ideas of imperialism that characterised Japan before the war and focusing only on the present, ignoring the past and what came before. Identity for the new generation, Endo argues, is all about materialism and the gathering together of as many meaningless possessions as possible.