What are the themes in the short story "Separate Ways" by Higuchi Ichyo?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hello! Yet another theme in Higuchi Ichiyo's short story centers around the fear of abandonment. Kichizo does not want Okyo to leave. She seems to be the only one who treats him as if he is a normal human being. When he finally realizes that Okyo is leaving to be some man's mistress, he is bereft. Up to this moment, she has been his comfort and his rock amidst the insensitive taunting of his classmates. She tells him that she is "sick of all this washing and sewing," tired of her drab clothes, and that she wishes to wear "a crepe kimono, too, for a change- even if it is tainted." Kichizo is broken-hearted. To him, their friendship is more important than any fancy kimono; he doesn't want to lose her. Ichiyo brings some uncomfortable truths to the forefront; we feel for Kichizo and we understand why he does not want Okyo to leave. At the same time, we understand why Okyo makes her choice. She is willing to take a risk if it means that she can leave her life of hardship behind.

Now, this leads us to another theme: the social stigma endured by those with disabilities or those whose looks differ from the norm, as demonstrated in Okyo's situation. He is tormented by his peers who taunt him for being a 'dwarf.' A lonely orphan, he has no real family and sees Okyo as his saving grace. This is not a tidy story with a happy ending, but it leaves us pondering the important themes that Ichiyo brings to our attention.

Thanks for the question.

iamkaori | Student

The theme of this story is maturing. When the boy realises that his sister is going away and getting married, he feels frustration since he thought that she would always be there for him. This is a form of childish stubbornness. However at the end, he learns that he needs to give up some things so that his sister will be happy. This is when he matures from a boy to be an adult. 

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