The Sound of a Voice

by David Henry Hwang

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 168

The social stigma of suicide (hara-kiri and kamikaze) in Japan differs from that in the United States. Investigate this difference in social customs. What are the historical, philosophical, and social contexts for suicide in Japan? How and why did it become ritualized? What is it about Western attitudes towards death, especially selfinflicted, that differs from the Japanese?

Research the history of the Samurai warriors in Japan. In what period were they most active? What did they represent? Whom did they protect? Were they solitary figures or did they travel in groups? What was their attitude toward women? What kind of training did they undergo? How has the philosophy of the Samurai affected contemporary Japanese society?

Read Hwang’s The House of Sleeping Beauties, which was often produced with The Sound of a Voice as a sort of ‘‘sister’’ play. How are the plays similar? Do the themes compliment one another? Did you gain a more comprehensive understanding of The Sound of a Voice by reading the second play?

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