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Discuss the role and significance of Yasuo in The Sound of Waves

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Essay - Discuss the role and significance of Yasuo In typical romance novels, the role of the antagonist or the foil is essential. It is the character which pushes the plot of the story along to a climax. Towards the end of the story, the foil suffers from the result of his actions and wrongdoings, and the main characters live ?happily ever after?. In the book The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima, Yasuo is precisely this character. Mishima presents Yasuo as a weak, detestable and somewhat ridiculous character. Alongside with Chiyoko, both characters serve as an obstacle to Shinji and Hatsue?s love affair. His selfish and objectionable behavior is constantly juxtaposed with Shinji?s virtuous behavior throughout the novel. The author also uses Yasuo to invite skepticism about the merits of a rapidly modernizing urban Japan in creating fulfillment and moral guidance. When Yasuo is first introduced in the text, Mishima draws the reader?s attention to his status and wealth, coming from ?one of the wealthiest families on the island?. Only nineteen years old, he was already the leader of the Young Men?s Association of Uta-jima, and was a young figure of authority. ...read more.


Through descriptions of Yasuo?s appearance and behavior, Mishima criticizes how influences from the West have corrupted the traditional aspects of Japan. Mishima believes that the reason behind Yasuo?s undisciplined and unsympathetic disposition can be linked to the negative influences from the modernity of cities such as Tokyo where Yasuo frequented. Yasuo took pride in showing off various goods that he had acquired from the city - his ?leather jacket which listened under the sun? and the ?luminous watch?. All these shining goods reflect and emphasize Yasuo?s feelings of pride when he flaunts these to others. Once again, Yasuo is juxtaposed with Shinji, who wears old fishing clothing inherited from his father. Shiniji also has the ability to tell the time just by taking a glance at the stars. This demonstrates his close connections and ?consummate accord? to the sea and nature, whilst Yasuo only becomes more detached from the island. His materialistic desires for extravagant goods from the mainland represent novelty, vulgarity and consumerism, which distract him from the traditional values and virtues that Mishima believes to be the most important in a person. ...read more.


?It gradually became clear to the crew that Yasuo was lazy. His attitude was that it was enough just to go through the motions of performing his duties.? Again, his attitude is contrasted with the diligent Shinji, who would attempt to cover up Yasuo?s laziness. When the storm struck the ship, it was Shinji who prove to be courageous, whilst Yasuo appeared to be a coward who was too afraid to swim out with a rope to attach the ship to the buoy. Here, Yasuo is fulfills his duty as a foil character when he is used to emphasize Shinji?s bravery. Mishima highlights his preference for Shinji who performs traditional work of hard labour and demonstrates intrepidity, the role model for the traditional values and ways of living in a traditional society. Mishima utilizes Yasuo as a medium through which he criticizes the negative influences from the West and modern Japan. He expresses his admiration for traditional society, and shuns the materialistic world which has corrupted the traditional aspects of Japan that he values and treasures. He implies that the traditional ways of living with nature create a healthy personality which brings satisfaction in life, unlike those who will never enjoy true happiness due to their detachment from nature and the traditional world. ...read more.

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