Relations between Taeko and Galeano’s Systems

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Chantel Pomerville

World Literature One

Relations between Taeko and Galeano’s Systems

The system of society that Japanese women were to follow during the 1930’s can be related to Eduardo Galeano’s portrayal of “The System”.  His work, The Book of Embraces, is a compilation of many short writings on society and human emotions.  The three essays entitled, “The system”, tell how people act, how people are expected to act, and how people think.  In the Japanese society that Taeko, from Junichiro Tanizaki’s The Makioka Sisters is from, women are expected to think and act as dictated by men.  Taeko is the rebellious sister, who does not want anyone holding her ambitions back.  She builds her own career, and denounces her family name so she can live freely.  Galeano’s idea of the system of the world is one where people give off an aura of indifference, immorality and impatience.  The Japanese system is not so much immoral as it is unyielding to change.  Taeko attempts to bring about a modern change, and every time she was penalized by society.   

“The System 1” describes how the modern government and political ‘system’ fails to operate correctly.  The system does not work, and everything is a lie.  Money rules everything, and laws cease to exist.  “Nothing is worthwhile when the people are at the service of things” (131).  In “The System Two”, Galeano implies that image is always changing, and people try to fit into groups. “It’s the age of the chameleon” (178) and people have more than one image that they present to others. Life is a double standard; one for action and one for speech.  “The law of reality is the law of power…” (178), which means that whoever has the money and the power is the lawmaker, and they determine what is real, and what is not.  The last line, “So that reality should not seem unreal, those in charge tell us that morality must be immoral” (178) is the most perplexing.  In the money-run society, people do not take time to realize the beauty of nature and the comfort of love, as was done in the past.  This loving and relaxing reality seems unreal and unattainable.  The businessmen in charge do not want people to slow down their loves to realize the good in them.  They only want us to purchase their products, and shun the simple and inexpensive things in life that are so fulfilling.  “The System Three” speaks of a ‘survival of the fittest’ world where every person looks out for his or her own benefits.   “If you’re not quick, you’re dead.  You are obliged to be the screwer or the screwed, the liar or the target of lies” (180). People do not take time to care for others, or complete things the long and fulfilling way.  The essay creates an image of a capitalist society, where it is foolish to have a compassionate heart.  If one desires to get ahead in life, it is necessary to be ruthless.  The Japanese system in not a complete mirror image of Galeano’s ideas.  The economy can be ruthless, but the culture takes time to respect life.  It is set in its old traditions of males earning the wages while women maintain the home, and the traditional family name (Tanazaki 163, 358).

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Taeko rebels against the standards of her society.  She “would do what she wanted regardless of the trouble it might cause and the rumors it might start” (279).  Taeko’s doll making began as a hobby, then progressed into dress-making (128).  Sachiko disapproved of this rebellion against Taeko’s position in society; she is a Makioka, not a common tailor.  The novel states,

“What were Taeko’s real motives for setting out to become a working woman?…Married to so worthless a person, she should be prepared to support him [Okubata]… The excuse was not enough to justify a course in sewing and a ...

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