See Haruo Ota
Joji Fujita, whose nickname is George, is a year older than H, but the two boys become friends when they work together in the same school factory. They have a lot in common. They both come from a family of Christians, but both are atheists. George speaks excellent English and always knows a lot about the war because he listens to the American radio broadcasts.
Fukushima is a friend of H in Second Middle School.
Furuta is one of the members of the Second Middle School rifle club, and he encourages H to join.
See Joji Fujita
See Hajime Senoh
Uncle Hadano is a civil engineer. He is a close friend of the Senoh family, and that is why H calls him uncle, although he is not a blood relative. H is fond of him and regards him as another father. The affection is mutual. H stays with Uncle Hadano for a while towards the end of the war. Uncle Hadano gets sick with cancer and dies shortly afterwards.
Iwao Hayashi is a friend of H. They are in the same grade at primary school. Hayashi is a champion wrestler; he is also intelligent and like H is good at drawing.
Instructor Hisakado, a teacher at Second Middle School, is in charge of the rifle club. He was formerly a watchmaker, and he is interested in art and music. He is a decent man and the students trust him. He teaches them that the true warrior is not one who does not fear death but one who has the skills necessary to protect himself.
Itchan is a close friend of H at primary (or national) school. H confides in him that he owns a postcard from New York and talks to Itchan about the United States. Itchan passes this information on to another boy, who writes ‘‘spy’’ on H’s desk in chalk. However, H and Itchan are soon reconciled.
Ryohei Koiso, a well-known artist, helps H in his studies after he graduates from Second Middle School.
Mr. Matsumoto is the teacher of English at Second Middle School. H likes him because he says he will continue to teach them English, even though it is the language of the enemy, as long as he is able.
Mr. Nakata is H’s physics and chemistry teacher. He and H dislike each other.
Nishioka is a friend of H in Second Middle School.
Muneo Ogura is a close friend of H toward the end of his time at Second Middle School.
Okubo is a friend of H in Second Middle School. Like H, Okubo does not believe the official versions of the war.
Haruo Ota is one of H’s classmates and the head boy. Haruo is known as ‘‘blackpatch’’ because of a birthmark on his head. H calls him ‘‘Donchan.’’ Haruo lends H a book called The Three Treasures from his father’s collection.
See Instructor Tamiyama
Also called H, Hajime Senoh is the son of Morio and Toshika Senoh. As a young boy in primary school he is intelligent and mischievous. According to his father, Hajime has a habit of saying the first thing that comes into his head. Hajime learns ways of getting what he wants even if he has to be devious. When he has no money but wants to see a ‘‘puppet peepshow’’ at a fairground, he tries to scare off the adults who are watching it by telling them they can contract an eye disease by touching the lens. Significantly, his favorite god in Japanese myth is Susanowo, who has a reputation for behaving badly.
Others tend to see H as an odd boy, although he has plenty of friends at school. But he is always questioning authority and asking awkward questions about why things are as they are. He is puzzled by the adults who say that everything that happens in the war is the will of the emperor, since H cannot see how the emperor can possibly be aware of all the things being done in his name. H’s instincts are pacifistic, and he does not want to join the rifle club because he feels it is too warlike. He...
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