Student Question

Was Shinji's suicide in "Patriotism" portrayed as beautiful?

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Lieutenant Shinji commits suicide in "Patriotism" using the Japanese method of seppuku, which is a ritual form of suicide by way of disembowelment. One could consider his act to be beautiful since he voluntarily chooses death over the option of following military orders and betraying his friends, who are guilty of plotting to overthrow the government.

Both Lieutenant Shinji and his wife, Reiko, choose suicide and immediately make peace with the decision, carefully preparing their home for death and even making passionate love before committing that final act. Reiko calmly watches her husband's violent finale, then unlocks the door so their bodies will be soon found, before slitting her own throat with the dagger she has held onto since their wedding night.

One could argue that beauty is demonstrated in the unbreakable commitment between husband and wife, in the calm resolve with which they undertake the most grim task of all, and in their choice of an honorable death out of loyalty to conscience.

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