(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

In the first of what may be regarded as the novel’s four main parts (chapters 1-3), the unhappy and taciturn couple dress in traditional kimono, take train and taxi to downtown Osaka, and then join Misako’s father and O-hisa at the Benten Theater to view the puppet play The Love Suicides at Amijima. While Kaname has accepted the invitation in order to ensure one filial act before his father-in-law is informed of the couple’s marital discord, he becomes intrigued by the play and the puppets, especially that of the heroine—a kind of prototype of the ideal woman for his father-in-law and himself. In contrast, Misako has unwillingly attended, seeking the earliest excuse for the couple’s departure so that she may “go to Suma,” the euphemism she and Kaname out of reciprocal consideration use for her trysts with a Mr. Aso. (Kaname has given his consent to the affair.)

In the second part (chapters 4-8), arriving from a regular business trip to China, Takanatsu delivers gifts to Hiroshi (a greyhound named “Lindy,” after the famous Charles Lindbergh), Kaname (an unexpurgated set of The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments), and Misako (her choice of scarves), although his main purpose at Kaname’s behest is spurring the indecisive and delaying couple to act: either to reconcile, or more probably to separate.

In the third part (chapters 9-12), the theater motif is resumed when, at the invitation of his father-in-law,...

(The entire section is 490 words.)