(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Aghwee the Sky Monster” is one of Kenzabur e’s first stories about children born with mental defects, written after his own son was born in 1963 with a cranial defect that would cause mental disability. In the story, the father, D, succumbs to traditional Japanese pressures and prejudices against raising a mentally disabled child and lets his newborn son starve to death. This is in stark contrast to e’s own decision to love and raise his disabled son. D’s baby returns as a ghost and ultimately drives D to suicide, creating a haunting tale about the grave consequences of a father being unable to face the responsibility of raising a seriously disabled child.

The story opens as the unnamed narrator reflects back to a time ten years earlier. Then entering college, he is interviewed by a rich banker. The overbearing man is looking for a companion to keep scandal away from his twenty-eight-year-old son, the composer D, who has become obsessed with the idea that he is living with a monster. Once a week, the narrator is to accompany D on his wanderings throughout Tokyo.

When meeting D, the narrator is told that there is a being in the sky that is invisible to all people but him. Occasionally, it comes down to D when he is in the open. D asks the narrator not to act startled in such a case. The latter agrees. Toward the end of their first day, D acts as if he has an invisible companion while they are part of a crowd watching the frenzied solitary dance of an old businessperson.

The narrator asks D’s nurse about the composer’s monster. With clear contempt, the nurse explains that it is a huge baby as big as a kangaroo, dressed in a white cotton nightgown and afraid of dogs and...

(The entire section is 703 words.)


(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The main character of Aghwee the Sky Monster is a young composer and father who kills his newborn baby by giving him only sugar water. When the autopsy reveals that the baby had only a benign tumor, the father goes into seclusion and gradually becomes obsessed with the idea that his baby flies down from the sky and visits him. This phantom baby, described as being the size of a kangaroo and dressed in a white cotton nightgown, descends from the sky at odd times and always out of doors.

The narrator of Aghwee the Sky Monster, a young man the same age as the composer, is hired as a companion by the composer’s father, a banker who is concerned that his son is demented and will do something embarrassing or dangerous. The composer, known only as D, is the only one who can see the phantom. It soon becomes clear that the baby is D’s conscience and that it appears from the sky to torment the father with a reminder of his crime. This illusion also suggests that the father wants desperately to communicate with the child who, during its brief life, uttered only one word: “Aghwee!” In the end, the father wants to go beyond communication and actually join the baby. To the narrator, who is starting to believe in the apparition, it seems as if the baby is able to fulfill the father’s wishes. As the two men are out walking one day, the baby suddenly appears, and the father runs out into a busy intersection to pursue what to him is a beckoning...

(The entire section is 462 words.)