Characters Discussed

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 772

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Sakini, a middle-aged Okinawan interpreter for U.S. occupation forces following World War II. His skillful use of native Okinawan customs, Japanese folk wisdom, parody of Western ways, and naïveté reveal his perceptions of Americans and America. Sakini effectively bridges cross-cultural barriers.

Colonel Purdy

Colonel Purdy, a stout U.S. Army officer assigned to democratize Okinawa following World War II. He is a single-minded individual who follows orders without question. He has rules and signs for the most trivial of situations; when alone, however, Purdy reads Adventure Magazine on work time. Outwardly, he guards his reputation, especially because of what his wife might say, but he is not above reversing orders to suit the whims of his superiors.

Captain Fisby

Captain Fisby, a U.S. Army officer in his late twenties, assigned as aide to Colonel Purdy. He had been an associate professor of humanities and is regarded as a misfit in military matters. Sakini constantly manipulates him into making all sorts of compromises and changes. Gradually, Fisby becomes so acculturated that he disobeys virtually every order that he is given, but in so doing he succeeds in making Tobiki a model village. His role demonstrates that a system is only a framework, within which ideal and reality may differ.

Lotus Blossom

Lotus Blossom, a beautiful, petite Okinawan geisha girl. She has difficulty performing her duties as a geisha because Captain Fisby, to whom she has been given, is ignorant of the true role of the well-trained geisha and assumes her to be a prostitute.

Captain McLean

Captain McLean, a psychiatrist in the U.S. Army. He is short and rather fat. His assignment is to make a psychological report on Captain Fisby, whose assimilation of the native ways is interpreted as a sign of mental imbalance. While he is working with Fisby, he is won over by Fisby and his cultural insights.

Sergeant Gregovich

Sergeant Gregovich, a U.S. Army enlisted man, aide to Colonel Purdy. He goes through the motions of appearing to be efficient.

Old Woman

Old Woman, an Okinawan villager and grandmother of Tobiki’s mayor, who rides, over protest, atop a loaded wagon that conveys Captain Fisby to his Tobiki assignment. Not to allow her to ride would make the mayor lose face; thus, she outmaneuvers those in command.

Old Woman’s daughter

Old Woman’s daughter, an Okinawan villager who, along with her three children, rides on the wagon to Tobiki.

Mr. Hokaida

Mr. Hokaida, a villager of Tobiki. A stout man in tattered peasant clothes, he presents Captain Fisby with a cricket cage when he arrives in Tobiki.

Mr. Omura

Mr. Omura, a villager of Tobiki. He welcomes Captain Fisby to Tobiki with chopsticks. He wears a white coat to distinguish himself from the rest of the villagers.

Mr. Sumata

Mr. Sumata, a skilled carpenter in Tobiki. He brings Captain Fisby a geisha girl as a gift, providing a chance to see how cross-cultural misunderstanding can strain relationships.

Mr. Sumata’s father

Mr. Sumata’s father, a skilled Tobikian carpenter. He helps to build the five-sided school/teahouse, highlighting the Japanese custom of passing on skills from one generation to the next.

Mr. Seiko

Mr. Seiko, a Tobiki villager. He gives Captain Fisby geta, a kind of wooden sandals, when the officer arrives in Tobiki.

Miss Higa Jiga

Miss Higa Jiga, an Okinawan villager chosen to be the president of a Ladies’ League for Democratic Action. A chunky, flat-faced, unmarried young woman who wears heavy glasses, she makes amusing demands of Fisby in the name of democracy. Thus the Americans see how democracy is perceived by foreigners unaccustomed to the system.

Mr. Keora

Mr. Keora, an Okinawan villager. He is one of several who are dejected when they cannot sell Okinawan crafts to the U.S. Army personnel because they regard the handcrafted items as inferior to what American technology could produce at lower cost, even though the American goods are of lower quality.

Mr. Oshira

Mr. Oshira, an Okinawan villager. This skilled artisan cannot sell his lacquer cups to soldiers who do not appreciate the time and skill that have gone into making them. He feels that the August moon at the end of summer—the peak between spring, the growing season, and fall, when nature sheds its foliage—symbolizes the maturity and wisdom that the two cultures have attained.

Major McEvoy

Major McEvoy, a U.S. Army officer. He is to be Captain Fisby’s replacement.

Lady Astor

Lady Astor, Miss Higa Jiga’s goat. If the goat can drink homemade sweet potato brandy without harm, the men will drink it.




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