The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Characters

Yukio Mishima

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Ryuji Tsukazaki

Ryuji Tsukazaki, a sailor and Fusako Kuroda’s lover. Having crossed the seas countless times on a freighter, Ryuji is thoroughly at home on the ocean and enjoys his work but lately has had passing thoughts of settling permanently on land. He also sees himself as destined for some kind of glory, although he cannot yet define in his own mind what kind of glory he will receive. He meets Fusako Kuroda and her son Noboru and becomes her lover, as well as a hero figure for the son, who is fascinated with his strength. Ryuji and Fusako decide to get married; he further determines to retire from the sea and work for her in the fashion boutique that she owns. Ryuji’s determination to retire from the sea enrages her son, Noboru, who wants Ryuji to retain his hero status by remaining primarily at sea. Ryuji finally receives his ironic “glory” by means of a painful death at the hands of Noboru and his friends, who seek to punish him.

Noboru Kuroda

Noboru Kuroda, a thirteen-year-old boy and the son of Fusako Kuroda. Noboru, like his friends, is a nihilist who believes that there is little meaning in life; nevertheless, he is fascinated with the strength and vastness of the sea and with Ryuji, who lives on and in the sea. Noboru believes that Ryuji partakes of the sea’s strength. When Ryuji becomes Fusako’s lover, Noboru is delighted, seeing direct links between himself and his mother, his mother and the...

(The entire section is 593 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

On the surface, Noboru is a normal thirteen-year-old boy. He is a good student, obeys his mother as much as any teenager does, dreams of having adventures, and likes to be with his friends. Underneath, however, Noboru harbors some disturbing qualities and philosophies: He is convinced that he is a genius; he believes that death is mankind’s only goal; he believes that authority is an enemy; and he practices “hard-heartedness” as a matter of pride. His obsession with the sea leads him to think of his heart as a “large iron anchor” which resists decay. He believes that the sea holds some sort of answer for him that his “empty world” on land cannot provide. When he meets the sailor Ryuji, he sees in him a mythological hero who follows the sea and answers only to the wail of the ship’s horn. The sailor represents beauty, glory, danger, perfection, and death, and Noboru is drawn toward what he considers a “universal order.” Nothing else will do.

As for Ryuji, he has many of the same passions as Noboru: beauty, glory, danger, and a love of the sea. He also feels the power of death tied up in his dreams, but adds to that the power of a woman. Feeling destined for glory by the time he was twenty, Ryuji left the unflexibility of land for the mysteries and movements of the sea. Yet nothing ever happened. Even the dangers of storms at sea and the exotic ports he visited soon became routine. Now he uses a woman and sexual love as a substitute for...

(The entire section is 426 words.)