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The Sailor who fell from grace with the sea. What does the novel teach us about loneliness?

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Tong Peiyuan The Sailor who fell from grace with the sea. "What does the novel teach us about loneliness?" Loneliness is a condition of human life, an experience of being human. Everyone feels loneliness at one or more points of his or her life. In the novel "The sailor who fell from grace with the sea", almost all the character portrays traces of isolation, solitude and loneliness: Noboru, Fusako, Ryuji, "the leader" and the group of Noboro's friends. Noboru is most definitely lonely, not that he is physically in solitude. However, his loneliness comes from his heart: his inability to find security in his life, his struggles with being" strong and masculine", as in his description about himself: "He never cried, not even in his dreams, for hard-heartedness was a point of pride. A large iron anchor withstanding the corrosion of the sea and scornful of the barnacles and oysters that harass the hulls of ships, sinking polished and indifferent through heaps of broken glass, toothless combs, bottle caps, and prophylactics into the mud at the harbor bottom -- that was how he liked to imagine his heart. ...read more.


He regards that kind of interaction as hypocrisy. For example his encounter with Ryuji in the park, he considered Ryuji's friendly smile as "cowardly and ingratiating". All these thoughts of his stems from his insecurity and loneliness, because he is lost and directionless, thus he turns defensive and seeks all ways to makes himself "stronger" and "braver". For example the killing of the kitten, Noboru was afraid at first, however to "make a real man of himself", he chose to kill. After the incident, his thoughts were "I killed it by myself...I can do anything, no matter how awful". This gave him Dutch courage, not by wine, but the act of killing, the act of taking away someone's life. Which reminds me of Japanese Soldiers in the world war 2, where they trained new soldiers at war by letting them practice killing people to give them courage. Perhaps, this is a part of Boshido, the art of warrior of Japan. Nevertheless, Noboru was a very lonely child. Another character that fascinates me is the leader. He gathers a group of classmates the age of 13 and teaches them anti-social and destructive values. ...read more.


Both of them are lonely because they lost people who were dear to their hearts: Fusako's husband had passed away for 5 years; Ryuji lost his parents and sister before he became a sailor. Both of them do not have friends as well: Fusako dedicated herself wholeheartedly into work and taking care of Noboru after her husband's death; Ryuji did not forge friendship with anyone else on the ships he was in and was considered unsociable and eccentric. He preferred to listening songs in his own room to gabbing with other sailors. Therefore, they felt a connection and fell in love on first sight. Indeed they completed each other, falling in love like two teenagers falling in love the first time: watching the sun rise together, walk in the park... Overall, the characters in the book all experience loneliness, in various degrees and for different reasons. However a characteristic in common is that they try to relieved their loneliness with various methods, resulting in different outcomes. Fusako and Ryuji have chosen to end their loneliness by falling in love." The leader" and Noboru have chosen to turn their loneliness to hatred and seek for strength using murder. Who said that "an idle mind is a devil's workshop"? Perhaps in this novel, it should be " a lonely mind is a devil's workshop". ...read more.

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