Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Mitsusaburo (Mitsu) Nedokoro

Mitsusaburo (Mitsu) Nedokoro, a young academic aristocrat. A stoic man, he is depressed by two events: the suicide of a friend and the birth of his first child, who is mentally retarded. He notes the details of his wife’s depression and her consumption of alcohol, but he feels powerless to change their situation. After the return to Japan of Taka, his younger brother, he consents to a return to their native village to begin life anew. There they are both swept up in research on a peasant revolt in 1860, led by an ancestor. They are also overwhelmed by an awareness of their two dead siblings—an older brother named S. and a young retarded sister. Mitsu tries to balance Taka’s romantic versions of their family’s deaths through logic and cynicism.

Takashi (Taka) Nedokoro

Takashi (Taka) Nedokoro, a reformed student activist. A charismatic young man in his twenties, Taka returns from the United States determined to seek his roots in his native village. Along with a small band of followers, and with his brother and sister-in-law, he completes the arduous journey. Once there, Taka sells the homestead and unilaterally decides to invest the money in a football team. Prone to violence and distortion of events, both past and present, he seduces Natsumi without remorse, murders a young woman senselessly, and finally confesses to his brother his incestuous relationship with their sister. He...

(The entire section is 487 words.)

The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Mitsusaburo Nedokoro might strike the reader as being the most negative character of The Silent Cry; after all, he voluntarily isolates himself from life and cherishes a “profound insensitivity” toward others. Still, it is essential to remember that “the rat” is set on his “downhill journey” by the double impact of traumatizing blows; the loss of his retarded son and the suicide of his best friend have anesthetized him to the point where Mitsu stubbornly insists that even a rat has an identity.

His apparent intellectual delight in destroying his brother’s comfortable fantasies of the past are the end result of his merciless use of his analytical capabilities and his refusal to live a life built on lies. There is a silent heroism in Mitsu’s decision that all the “roots” linking him to his native village are ultimately as fictional as the old story that their family name means “the soul’s roots” in an Okinawan dialect. The protagonist-narrator’s indifference also serves as a means of surviving the insults of his brother, who clandestinely sells all of their estate and seduces his wife. In the end, Mitsu is saved by Natsumi, whose tenderness fills his inner abyss. Her drinking helped to drive her husband into isolation, but her final appearance at the pit offers the chance of redemption.

Takashi’s restless attempts at healing through action the inner wound his sister’s suicide inflicted stands in radical...

(The entire section is 419 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Kimball, Arthur G. Crisis in Identity and Contemporary Japanese Novels, 1973.

e, Kenzabur. “A Game of Football,” in Japan Quarterly. October-December, 1973, pp. 428-429.

Sakurai, Emiko. “Kenzabur e: The Early Years,” in World Literature Today. LVIII (Summer, 1984), pp. 370-373.

Wilson, Michiko N. “A Narrative of Simultaneity: The Football Game of the First Year of Manen,” in The Marginal World of e Kenzabur, 1986.

Yamanouchi, Hisaaki. The Search of Authenticity in Modern Japanese Literature, 1978.