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The Waiting Years. In The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi, the uphill road that Tomo ascends in exhaustion (Onnazaka, women's hilly road) is symbolic of the struggles and trials that women must endure while sacrificing everything as victims of feudalism.

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Introduction

Name: Valerie Ng Suying (21) Class: P1 Subject: Literature Title: Literature Year 5/2011 The Waiting Years Submission Date: 11 March 2011 Question: A woman's journey: The significance of the uphill road In The Waiting Years by Fumiko Enchi, the uphill road that Tomo ascends in exhaustion (Onnazaka, women's hilly road) is "symbolic of the struggles and trials that women must endure while sacrificing everything as victims of feudalism." (willamette.edu) It presents to us the Japanese woman who is struggling to find her voice amidst the suffocating patriarchal society around her. However, in this context, it is Tomo's journey that we focus on, not simply the journeys of the traditional Japanese women as a whole. This essay will look into the significance of the uphill road in the novel: a parallel to a woman's plight, a representation of the family that is constructed in patriarchy, a central metaphor used to demonstrate Tomo's inner desires as well as displaying the idea of futility. ...read more.

Middle

At the same time, the hill comes to stand for all the forces and repressions employed by the patriarchal figure that Tomo have to overcome. In this scene, we see that Tomo finds it hard to scale the narrow road, which represents the "restricted sphere of a life" and limited prospects. She seems to be relentlessly caught up within the confines of the patriarchal system, and has no ability to imagine other possibilities. Just when Tomo thinks she has found a kind of solitude, she returns back to the same old houses that she had just passed. There was no end to the hill that she climbed: "She thought she had covered three-quarters of the way, but it was scarcely a half" (190). "The hand that held the umbrella was numbed by the snow" (189) illustrates that Tomo's heart and spirit is numbed by the coldness, where it stems from the tyrannical suppression of the patriarchal authority that oppresses her. ...read more.

Conclusion

For no matter how much effort Tomo puts in, it is futile: she can never fully triumph because she is still nevertheless, confined by the patriarchal society around her. "A small-scale happiness and a modest harmony: let a man cry out, let him rage, let him howl with grief with all the power of which he was capable" (189) suggests that behind all these humble happiness and simple pleasures that Tomo desires, the patriarchal figure is always towering over the domestic sphere and working class, expressing their power and commanding the women with demands. Essentially, it is the society that defines her, where she remains subjugated. The uphill road is significant and symbolic of Tomo's development in the entire novel. It portrays her inner desires for a domestic life, the patriarchal forces and repressions that Tomo has to overcome and the futility that pervades throughout her entire journey. Nevertheless, the suppressed woman dares to long for the prospects above the limited horizons. ...read more.

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