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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

When selecting quotes from a book, quotes which illuminate the main theme or character development are significant.

Here are two quotes by one of the main characters, Father Velasco, who is a Franciscan missionary to Japan:

"Missionary work is like diplomacy. Indeed it resembles the conquest of a foreign land. In missionary work, as in diplomacy, one must have recourse to subterfuge and strategy, threatening at times, compromising at others—if such tactics serve to advance the spreading of God's word, I do not regard them as despicable or loathsome." (97)

This statement by Velasco represents his justification for his work, his strategies, and the spread of Christianity.

"In pursuit of profits from trade with Nueva Espana, the Japanese were at last on the verge of crossing the Pacific like black ants. The missionary sensed that he could use their greed to benefit the missionary cause." (26)

This important quote reflects the main reason Velasco believes the Japanese were eager to convert to Christianity. He asserts that the Japanese would go to great lengths to gain a profit, so Velasco uses this factor to his advantage in his missionary work.

This is another powerful quote:

It had never occurred to the samurai that there were so many new and different things to experience. He had not realized the world was so vast . . . But now a subtle transformation was taking place in his heart, and with it came a vague uneasiness and formless fear. He was setting foot in a new world. And he feared that cracks were beginning to form in the wall that had supported his heart until now, and that it would eventually crumble into dust. (76)

This statement reveals a pivotal change in the character of the samurai as he sets out on his mission and begins to question his own destiny.

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Critical Essays