Kokoro - values of modern civilization Sensai now...

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Skye Wallin September 21, 2007 Q-Paper End of an Era Natsume Soseki’s novel Kokoro is the story of the struggle between modernity and tradition during the rise of the modern era of Japan. Sensai, Father, and K find themselves incompatible with the isolating freedom and individualism of this modern era. While all three characters suffer, they do so in different ways—Sensai and K become egoists who live lives of pessimism and loneliness; putting an end to their suffering by way of dignified suicide. Father, on the other hand, suffers with his physical ailments and represents the resistance to the values of the new age. Though Sensai lives for many years with guilt—believing that K had killed himself out of “disappointment in love,” he ultimately comes to the realization that perhaps it was in fact out of the desire to escape his terrible loneliness caused by the
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Unformatted text preview: values of modern civilization. Sensai now recognizes himself as an “anachronism” following the end of the Meiji era—he finds dignity in suicide after the death of the Meji emperor (and inspiration by the long awaited suicide of General Nogi), marking the true end of his time; Sensai respectfully follows his “lord to the grave.” While Sensai and K turn inward in their despair, Father instead voices his opposition to the departure from tradition. He remains concerned with his reputation in the community—citing his obligations to Confucian relationships. He criticizes his son for not being self-reliant and his children for abandoning their parents. And because he chooses to live, he suffers from terrible sickness, and is ultimately abandoned by his own son—epitomizing the death of the traditional era....
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