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Ryuji by Mind Map: Ryuji

1. Role of the character

1.1. Relationship with Fusako

1.1.1. Pg 36 “I’ve never talked so much with a man before, not since my husband died...”

1.1.2. Pg 39 “And he had been certain that the woman before him was the woman in the dream. If only he had found the words to say it.”

1.2. Relationship with the sea

1.2.1. Pg 40-41 “his only memories of life on shore were of poverty and sickness and death, of endless devastation; by becoming a sailor, he had detached himself from the land forever...”

1.3. Ryuji represents for Noboru the idea of glory

1.4. Role as a sailor - relates to cultural context (Japan as an island)

1.4.1. He often falls back into this role even though he has officially abandoned this life - Pg 107 “Ryuji issued brisk instructions as though he were directing a scrub-down on the deck”

1.5. Role as a father/the man of the family (or attempting to fill that role)

1.5.1. Trying ‘build character’ for Noboru - Pg 108 ““Stop worrying so much! Working up a good sweat’s the best way to kick a cold.””

1.5.2. Trying to soften the blow to Noboru

1.5.3. Pg 47 “forced a smile” “The artificial smile spread over his face again.”

1.5.4. Pg 146 ““From now on, it’s Son. What do you say, Son. Shake hands with Dad.””

1.5.5. Pg 156 “He would have to receive their love with dignity, to deliver them from daily dilemmas … he was expected in some vague, general way to comprehend the the incomprehensible feelings of the mother and the child and to become an infallible teacher...” - expectations of him, stress, pressure

1.5.6. Pg 157 “As he hurried to banish from his mind merely dutiful concern for this reticent, precocious, bothersome child, this boy whom he didn’t really love, Ryuji managed to convince himself that he was brimming with genuine fatherly affection.” - almost seems like he is playing a role

1.5.7. Pg 169 “This was the first son-to-father favour Noboru had ever asked and Ryuji was determined not to betray the boy’s trust. It was a father’s duty.”

1.6. Masculine male gender role

1.7. Post war japan - Ryuji is a victim of the war

1.7.1. Pg 40 “late in the war his home had been destroyed in an air raid”

2. Themes

2.1. Glory - Before he meets Fusako, Ryuji believed he was destined for a life of glory. Also Noboru originally viewed Ryuji in a glorious light, but this view changes throughout the book.

2.1.1. Pg 16 “there’s just one thing I’m destined for and that’s glory; that’s right, glory!” Pg 38 “the poignant voice of glory will call for me from the distance-and I’ll have to jump out of bed and set out alone.”

2.2. Gender roles - masculinity, dominance

2.2.1. Pg 38-39 “But he hadn’t said anything like that; partly because he doubted a woman would understand.”

2.2.2. Pg 39 “In the grand dream Ryuji had treasured secretly for so long, he was a paragon of manliness”

2.2.3. Pg 142 “The large voice from the living room lumbered up the stairs.”

2.3. Individuals in society/Alienation - Ryuji is originally a very isolated character by choice, but later on in the novel he is ostracized by Noburu and his gang

2.3.1. Pg 40 “mother’s death...his sister had died of typhus shortly after;...his father died too;”

2.4. Tradition vs Modernisation - Ryuji represents Japanese tradition, which Mishima believed was being ‘diluted’ by Western influences

3. How are we positioned to view him

3.1. Not very cultured or sophisticated

3.1.1. Pg 30 “He seemed a rugged, simple man”

3.1.2. Pg 107 “Fusako’s present was an armadillo pocketbook. It was a bizarre affair, with a handle that looked like a rat’s neck, and crude clasps and stitching”

3.2. Child-like

3.2.1. Pg 46 “The memory of a mischievous game he had often played as a child drew him across the lawn to the drinking fountain.”

3.2.2. Pg 112 “Ryuji heard himself bellow in the resolute voice he used to shout orders into the wind on the winter deck: “Will you marry me?”” - not good at expressing emotions

3.3. Oblivious

3.3.1. Pg 146 (after Noboru’s sly smile) “Ryuji saw it out of the corner of his eye and snatched it up. Again, a misunderstanding. The grin he flashed back was the same brand of exaggerated glee...”

3.3.2. Pg 151 ““I wonder what that is,” he mused aloud. “Do you think Noboru’s still up? You know, this place is getting pretty run-down. I’d better seal that up in the morning.””

3.4. Recluse/outsider

3.4.1. Pg 18 “no one ever disturbed him.”

3.5. Feeble

3.5.1. ‘a pitiful figure in a water-logged shirt and, as if that wasn’t enough, smiled like a fawning idiot.’ (pg. 63) - we see him as someone who is somewhat feeble and this is in sharp contrast with the image of Ryuji that we see earlier. Water-logged - childish?

3.5.2. Pg 151 “A muffled sound that might have been Fusako crying … He paced the floor in the darkness trying to decided whether he should go straight in or wait and finally … lit a cigarette.”

3.5.3. Pg 154 “The door opened tentatively and Ryuji peeked into the room.”

3.6. Given up on glory

3.6.1. Pg 110 “What a fool he’d been! There was no glory to be found, not anywhere in the world.”

3.6.2. Pg 123 “If Fusako intended to train Ryuji to take over Rex someday, she would be wise to start him learning the business...” - almost as though he no longer has any drive, and allows her to ‘run’ him (also Pg 135)

3.7. Seemed to epitomise the ‘perfect man’ (on the outside)

3.7.1. Pg 129 ““...nor is there any indication that he has ever cohabited with a woman or even engaged in a prolonged or significant affair””

3.7.2. Pg 129 ““...he is conscientious about his work, highly responsible, and extremely healthy: he has never had a serious illness.””

3.7.3. Pg 129 ““The subject has no debts””

3.8. Connected to the sea/influenced by the sea

3.8.1. Pg 156 “Now Ryuji was obliged to reach a father’s decision, the first decision about shore life he had ever been forced to make. But his memory of the sea’s fury was tempering his critical notions of land...”

3.8.2. Pg 156 “...he was dealing here with no ocean squall but the gentle breeze that blows ceaselessly over the land.”

3.8.3. Pg 156 “...he was unable to distinguish the most exhaulted feelings from the meanest, and suspected that essentially important things did not occur on land. No matter how hard he tried to reach a realistic decision, shore matters remained suffused with the hues of fantasy.”

4. Conflicts

4.1. Internal

4.1.1. Conflict between love for Fusako vs. being free Pg 110 “As Ryuji stared at a red bulb blooming above an emergency exit, he became painfully conscious of the texture of shore life ... It was time to abandon the dream he had cherished too long. Time to realise that no specially tailored glory was waiting for him.” Pg 110 “...he was directing another question to himself: Are you really going to give up? … Are you going to give up the life which has detached you from the world, kept you remote, impelled you toward the pinnacle of manliness?” Pg 110 “...are you going to give up that luminous freedom?” Pg 136 ““But you know, he still keeps his sailor cap and his pea coat and even his dirty old turtleneck sweater folded away in his closet. You can tell he doesn’t want to throw them away.””

4.2. External

4.2.1. Conflict with Noburu Pg 49 “That sailor is terrific! He’s like a fantastic beast that’s just come out of the sea all dripping wet.” - Noboru’s original, positive feelings towards Ryuji

5. Character change

5.1. Introduced as a very self-oriented man who feels he is destined for glory. (quotes in glory and alienation below)

5.2. Meets Fusako and falls in love, which begins his change.

5.3. His realisation of his lost of glory

5.3.1. Pg 179 “I could have been a man sailing away forever. He had been fed up with all of it … and yet now, slowly, he was awakening again to the immensity of what he had abandoned.”

5.4. Starts to want to go back to the sea

5.4.1. Pg 179 “an unknown glory calling for him endlessly from the dark offing, glory merged in death and in a woman, glory to fashion of his destiny something special”

5.4.2. Pg 180 “Now only embers remained. Now began a peaceful life, a life bereft of motion.”

5.4.3. Pg 180 “Now perilous death had rejected him. And glory, no doubt of that. And the retching drunkenness of his own feelings. … The call of the Grand Cause … and the sweet heavy power propelling him toward the pinnacle of manliness - now all of this was done, finished.”