The Sound of Waves

by Yukio Mishima

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What are the political aspects of The Sound of Waves?

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One of the most striking political aspects of the text is how Mishima constructs purity and corruptibility.  For Mishima, the rural condition is where purity and hope lie.  The urban setting is one where condemnation and moral depravity are evident.  Characters like Shinji are rural, but they possess honor and a sense of dignity to them.  These traits guide their actions, similar to Shinji's mother whose professional talents do not obscure the duty she bears to her children. Hatsue is depicted as pure and virtuous.  The rural setting is one where there is hope in so far as honor exists and guides actions.  In contrast to this, the corruption seen in the characterizations of Chiyoko and Yasuo is reflective of how the urban setting corrupts.  The political implications are evident in that Mishima sees hope in the rural condition and the urban predicament is where moral decay is evident. Considering that he is writing at a time when the urbanization in Japan began to take hold as representative of emerging Japanese power and autonomy after World War II, Mishima is making a direct political statement about the moral character and fiber of the new Japan.

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