Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 188
Botchan is a novel by Japanese writer, Kinnosuke Natsume. The first theme that is evident in the story is the transitional period of feudal Japan into a modern and slightly Westernized society. The era in which the story is set in is the early period of Japan's "cultural identity crisis." Hard-line nationalists believed that Japan will not benefit from deals with the West—namely the United Kingdom and the United Kingdom—whilst progressives believed that Japan's industrialization was the correct path forward. The other prominent theme of the story is the characterization of Tokyo's citizens and urban culture.
The story satirizes the Tokyo "identity" and the contemporary mores of Japan as a whole. Another theme of the story—which is illustrated by the protagonist—is the alienation someone feels within the family and within society. The protagonist's bad relations with his father and brother symbolize the Japanese citizen in conflict with the society around them, but cannot express these tumultuous feelings due to the Japanese culture's emphasis on emotional suppression. In essence, the major theme of the story is the contradictory dynamics between individuality and the social collective.