What is the historical background of Yukio Mishima's "Swaddling Clothes"?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The background of Mishima's "Swaddling Clothes" centers on the future of Japan in the post World War II setting.  The history, tradition, and divine right of Japanese government and society was drastically changed after its surrender in the Second World War.   The dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seemed to wipe out so much of Japan in both a literal sense and historically symbolic sense.  After Japan signed the surrender, the American government imposed its own version of a Constitution on Japan, as well that removed its Emperor, a symbol of the divine right of kings and rulers, from any substantive notion of power.  The imposition of a Western style democratic regime led to the absorption of Western material values.  This caused a massive change in the social makeup of Japanese society, which seemed to straddle the worlds of traditional Japan, which longed to hearken back to its own senses of duty and honor,  and modern Japan, which sought to embody so much of the West in forgoing its own sense of the past.  It is in this collision of values where we see the story of Toshiko, her view of modern morality, her hopes in traditional notion of the good, and her distance between her Western modeling husband, and her concern with the future of a society and nation that has been stripped of its past connections play out.

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Swaddling Clothes

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