To the White Sea recounts the journey of Sergeant Muldrow from Tokyo to the northern island of Hokkaido. Muldrow bails out of his plane, an American B-29 bomber, when it is shot down on a raid over Tokyo. He is the crew’s only survivor.
Muldrow’s journey begins in a sewer, where he hides while awaiting the next day’s bombing raid by the Americans. Amid the panic and chaos it causes, he joins the crowds streaming through the burning city, shoots a man for his clothing, stabs a woman who recognizes that he is foreign, and stabs another man for his shoes. Safely out of the city, he heads north, sleeping along the road, hiding in fields, his only weapon a small bread knife, carefully honed and polished. One night, outside a house where a small family is at dinner, he lets the candlelight glint off the knife blade, then moves on, thrilled that he has left his mark.
Along the way, he feels as though he enters the tree, the stone, the lake. Wrapping himself in animal hides gives him the power of that animal. In his element, in control of his fate, he has seldom been happier, eating the raw flesh of a swan, using its feathers for a mattress, and preying on humans. He stabs an old man for his winter clothing. Near an airfield, Muldrow sees Japanese soldiers decapitate a captured American prisoner. The scene lowers even further his respect for enemy life. Shortly after, he stabs a woman and puts her severed head in a waterwheel bucket. This grisly episode is followed by a touching encounter with two small children. Patiently, he makes a string design for them, then sends them safely back to their house.
(The entire section is 671 words.)