Student Question

How does Spring Snow compare or contrast to reality?

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Spring Snow was written by Yukio Mishima. It is a story about a privileged young man named Kiyoaki Matsugae who comes from a very wealthy Samurai family in Japan. Despite appearances of success, power, and attractiveness, he internally experiences a complicated web of emotions that are mostly borne from feelings of insecurity. He grew up with a woman named Satoko, whom he is strongly attracted to, but he cannot muster the courage and strength to approach her. He is simply too afraid to express his profound love for her.

In Japanese society, many families value tradition, and many strongly believe that women must become married. Because Kiyoaki cannot express his love, Satoko finds herself marrying the Emperor’s son. Kiyoaki later expresses his deep love for her since he can contain his feeling no longer, and he and Satoko become intimate. Satoko eventually becomes pregnant.

In Japanese society (at least at the time), their love affair is socially unacceptable. The novel excellently portrays the captivity of their feelings toward each other due to the traditions that are in place in traditional Japanese culture. As the title of the novel suggests, both Satoko and Kiyoaki, youthful and vibrant, are in the spring season stage of their lives and their affection toward each other is blooming like a flower, but they also feel entrapped by a cold, harsh, snowy prison in the Japanese social structure. Body, mind, and spirit are in conflict throughout the novel.

Therefore the title hints at this contrast. Reality in society is depressing, given the feelings for each other that they feel pressured to suppress. But their own world of feelings seems so perfect and justifiable. They practically wish they could escape the cold reality that confronts them and go someplace else. Yet the culture at the time cannot accept the affair that they have created.

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