Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Stylistically, e deals with the theme of parental and human responsibility through the medium of an effective ghost story. By limiting the point of view to that of the narrator reflecting back on past events, e draws the reader into a magical tale. The focus is on the gradual revelation of D’s deeds and his unique response to his guilt. What D did becomes clear as the narrator meets the people central to the composer’s life. The frame story serves to bring the story to a satisfying close: At the beginning of the story, the narrator promises to reveal what happened to his right eye, and at the end, it is revealed that he was rewarded with a magical second sight of Aghwee for being partially blinded.

The choice of Christmas Eve for D’s suicide may strike readers as a bit melodramatic, but then again D is engaging in a kind of performance for the narrator, who stands in for an audience, so it is convincing that D ends his own life with a maximum of emotional effect and chooses a day that means nothing religious to him but represents a culturally imported occasion for shopping and gift giving in contemporary Japan. In a way, D offers his own life as a gift of penance to his murdered baby son.

In “Aghwee the Sky Monster,” e deliberately leaves open the question of whether Aghwee is a real ghost or just the product of D’s guilty conscience and the narrator’s collusion in that perception. The reader has only the narrator’s report that D acts as if Aghwee is there and that he himself sensed Aghwee’s presence twice in his life. Beyond this personal account, there is no independent, objective confirmation of these occurrences, and a reader may side with D’s nurse, who rejects Aghwee as the product of a lunatic’s imagination.

On a deeper level, the monster functions as a manifestation of D’s guilt over having starved his apparently brain-damaged son. The monster represents a magnified return of his suppressed memories of his own actions, whether it is meant to be a real vision or a metaphor of the enormity of D’s bad conscience.