As the novel opens Ichiro’s life is defined by the one fact that he refused to join the army. He fears that this choice has ruined his life, ostracized him, and robbed him of a future. However, as the story continues he realizes that everyone is messed up. The turning point for Ichiro is when his mother commits suicide. This seems to free both Ichiro and his father to make their own choices, and look at the world as they will, without their views being contaminated by her black despair and denial.
After Ichiro’s death, he is offered a job and considers taking it. He goes out with his friends and gets into mischief at the bars, but he comes to realize that those who served in the war are sometimes worse off than him. Kenji is succumbing to his wounds, for example. When Ichiro gets in a fight, he fights back. He leaves the fight feeling that a future is possible.