In "Patriotism" by Mishima, why is Shinji determined to die by ritual suicide?

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Yukio Mishima's short story "Patriotism " recounts the events leading up to a ritualistic suicide by Lieutenant Shinji Takeyama and his wife.  The setting of this story, Japan in 1936, is integral to the plot.  Seppuku, a form of ritual suicide, was historically a well accepted practice in...

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Yukio Mishima's short story "Patriotism" recounts the events leading up to a ritualistic suicide by Lieutenant Shinji Takeyama and his wife.  The setting of this story, Japan in 1936, is integral to the plot.  Seppuku, a form of ritual suicide, was historically a well accepted practice in Japan.  Without the stigma attached to suicide within the Christian faith, the act in Japanese culture was seen as showing great honor, and represented the ultimate sacrifice one could make to show courage. 

It is obvious within the text that Lieutenant Shinji has accepted that he will give his life for country and honor at some point.  At the beginning of the story, the author writes, “A woman who had become the wife of a soldier should know and resolutely accept that her husband’s death might come at any moment.”  Later as the lieutenant leaves the house for the day, his wife sees “the determination to die” in his face. 

Once the mutiny begins, the Lieutenant’s loyalty becomes divided.  His world and reality are turned upside down as close friends become enemies of the government that he has committed his life to protect and defend.  The Lieutenant states of his close friends, “They’ll be posted as rebels, I imagine. I shall be in command of a unit with orders to attack them. . . . I can’t do it. It’s impossible to do a thing like that.”  When faced with the choice to kill a close friend or turn against his government, Lieutenant Shinji decides the only way he can save his honor is to die at the hand of his own sword. 

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In "Patriotism," Shinji feels that he must die by ritual suicide because he feels he has no other choice.

Shinji feels that suicide is the only honorable path to pursue. Members of Shinji's unit, the Konoe Transport Battalion, had sided with "the mutineers" against the government.  These battalion members participated in attacks aimed at overthrowing the prime minister and other government officials. The uprising failed, and the mutineers had been captured.  When he returns home, Shinji tells his wife the pain he feels over his predicament. He tells Reiko that he will have to carry out the "Imperial ordinance" the following morning.  Since members of his unit will be "posted as rebels," he will have to attack them.  

Shinji feels that he cannot carry out this order and that "it's impossible to do a thing like that."  After a pause, he repeats his agony to his wife:  “They’ve taken me off guard duty, and I have permission to return home for one night. Tomorrow morning, without question, I must leave to join the attack. I can’t do it, Reiko.”  When he tells her that he cannot attack his comrades, she understands that he feels that he has to kill himself.  He is "resolved" that suicide is the only choice he can make.  He chooses ritual suicide as a way to find honor in a situation that presents only dishonorable options for him.

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