No Longer Human

by Osamu Dazai

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No Longer Human Characters

The main characters in No Longer Human are Oba Yozo, Father, Takeichi, Masao Horiki, Tsuneko, and Yoshiko.

  • Oba Yozo, an aspiring artist, has suffered abuse at the hands of his father and feels deeply disconnected from other people.
  • Father is abusive and unsupportive of Yozo’s artistic ambitions.
  • Takeichi is one of Yozo’s friends from high school, and the two bond over Western art.
  • Masao Horiki, a friend, introduces Yozo to more worldly pursuits, though he blames Yozo for Tsuneko’s death.
  • Tsuneko and Yozo bond over their unhappiness, ultimately forming a suicide pact.
  • Yoshiko is a seventeen-year-old girl whom Yozo marries.


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Last Updated on August 24, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1076

Oba Yozo

Oba Yozo is the narrator and protagonist of No Longer Human. He was born in a rural area in northeastern Japan to an affluent family. In “The First Notebook,” Yozo confesses that he has felt severely alienated from other human beings from a young age. Because he is terrified of other people, he feels the need to always put on a mask and play the part of the clown. As a result of this intense fear of conflict, Yozo is almost never honest with other people—and, to an extent, himself. Yozo’s feelings of shame and alienation eventually lead him to substance abuse and multiple suicide attempts.

Although Yozo does not directly ascribe his turbulent disposition to his circumstances in life, it is clear that his experiences of sexual abuse and treatment at the hands of his father affect him deeply. This is confirmed in the last lines of the novel, when the madam of the bar in Kyobashi blames Yozo’s father for Yozo’s misery.


Yozo’s father is a member of the National Diet of Japan. For weeks at a time, he travels to Tokyo on business trips. Although he likes to buy gifts for his children and even for distant relatives, he is not an affectionate person. In fact, Yozo describes his father’s presence as oppressive more than once. Yozo’s father is also implied to be an imposing and serious-minded man, as he disregards Yozo’s artistic aspirations and plans for his son to become a civil servant.

Although Yozo does not speak about his father at length, it is implied that the latter is a painful figure in his life. Even as Yozo is estranged from his father, his unpleasant memories of the man continue to haunt him. When Yozo receives news of his father’s death, it leaves him feeling empty—as if the “vessel” of his suffering is gone. While Yozo never criticizes or blames his father directly, he is one of the main sources of Yozo’s unhappiness.


Yozo’s mother does not have as prominent a role in the novel as Yozo’s father. Yozo is not close with his mother and almost never mentions her. Significantly, Yozo does not trust her enough to confide in her that he has been sexually assaulted by their servants—as he suspects that he will merely be bullied into silent capitulation.


Takeichi is one of Yozo’s classmates in high school. He sees through one of Yozo’s clowning antics and thus eventually becomes Yozo’s friend. Although Yozo sees Takeichi as dim and mediocre, the two bond over their fondness for Western art. Their conversations inspire Yozo to take up painting seriously.

Eventually, Takeichi makes two predictions that will shape Yozo’s life: one is that women will easily fall for Yozo, and the other is that Yozo will become a great artist. Unfortunately, it is only the former prediction that comes true.

Yozo’s Aunt

Yozo’s aunt is in her fifties during the time that Yozo lives with her. Although she sells stationery and sporting goods, she makes most of her money from the five or six tenants living in her house. She does not appear much in the novel, nor is she mentioned by name.


Sister is the moniker Yozo assigns to the eldest daughter of his aunt. She is in her thirties and was once married. One evening, Sister comes to Yozo in tears, begging him to run away with her. Yozo does not reply and instead gives Sister a section of persimmon, as he believes that such dramatics can be placated with something sweet.


Setchan is the...

(This entire section contains 1076 words.)

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younger daughter of Yozo’s aunt. She is around high school age. Setchan always brings her friends to Yozo’s room, where Yozo entertains them with his antics. After sending them away, she gossips about them with Yozo.

Masao Horiki

Masao Horiki is a friend Yozo makes while attending art classes in Hongo. He is six years older than Yozo. Having grown up in the city, he is wily and educated in ways that Yozo is not.

Yozo’s friendship with Horiki drastically changes his life, as he learns from Horiki how to drink, smoke, and enjoy the company of prostitutes. It is also Horiki who introduces Yozo to the Marxist organization that Yozo eventually becomes a part of. Although the two spend much of their time drinking together, Horiki makes no secret of his disdain for Yozo. He blames Yozo for Tsuneko’s death and sees him as a lowly criminal.


Tsuneko works as a hostess at a café in Ginza. She is two years older than Yozo. Originally from Hiroshima, she moved to Tokyo after marrying her husband. Her husband could not find work in Tokyo, however, and was eventually thrown in jail for swindling.

When Tsuneko and Yozo spend the night together, Tsuneko confesses that she is deeply unhappy with her life. Yozo finds a kindred spirit in Tsuneko and falls in love with her. Eventually, the two form a suicide pact.


Flatfish is a henchman of Yozo’s father. He is a forty-year-old bachelor and antiques dealer who acts as Yozo’s guarantor after Yozo is thrown in jail. Yozo lives with him for a while, during which time Flatfish regularly receives money from Yozo’s brothers.


Shizuko is a twenty-eight-year-old journalist who was born in Koshu. She is a widow who lives in an apartment in Koenji with her five-year-old daughter. After meeting Yozo through Horiki, she takes Yozo in and treats him like her husband. Despite Yozo’s alcoholism and general disregard for Shizuko’s feelings, Shizuko continues to take care of him.


Shigeko is Shizuko’s daughter. Her father, Shizuko’s late husband, died when she was only two years old. Although she initially bonds with Yozo, the latter distances himself from Shigeko when she admits that she wishes her real father was still alive.


Yoshiko is a seventeen-year-old girl who works in a tobacco shop across the street from the bar where Yozo regularly drinks. Yozo describes her as pale and having crooked teeth. Whenever Yozo buys cigarettes from her, she tells him to stop drinking.

Yozo is eventually taken with Yoshiko’s innocent charm and marries her. Their marriage takes a dark turn, however, when an acquaintance sexually assaults Yoshiko in their house.