In many tokugawa period woodblock prints for example

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Unformatted text preview: ble life—it was like the voice of inspiration, and Bird believed.58 Bird counterattacks and “the joy of battle . . . reawakened in him; it had been years since he had felt it. Bird and the dragon-jackets watched one another without moving, appraising the formidable enemy. Time passed,” and the gang withdrew. Bird, trapped and bewildered by life, sees in the dragon-jacketed gang a well-defined enemy he can attack, daringly and against great odds. But the euphoria he experiences over victory in physical battle is short-lived, and the oppressiveness of life becomes even more terrifyingly real when he learns that his baby has been born a monster with a rare brain hernia protruding from its head. Africa suddenly becomes more unattainable than ever before, and Bird tries to escape from the dilemma of what to do about the baby by fleeing in a totally opposite direction. Purchasing a bottle of whiskey, he seeks sanctuary—in a symbolic kind of return to the womb—in the dark, cluttered apartment of a former girlfriend. Later, when the baby fails to die in the hospital as Bird had agonizingly hoped, he and the girlfriend take custody of it and deliver it to an illicit doctor for disposal. With the baby gone, they plan to fulfill Bird’s dream of going to Africa. Òe had to this point written a splendid and poignantly moving story. Inexplicably, he chose to conclude it with a brief, less than convincing epilogue that informs us that Bird came to his senses in time to retrieve the baby and return it to the hospital, where it was operated on and fixed—it did not have a brain hernia after all, merely a benign tumor. Bird’s attitude is now mature and stable, and he is planning for the future of the baby. In 1994 Òe became the second Japanese writer, after Kawabata Yasunari, to receive the Nobel Prize in literature. Playing on the title that Kawabata had used for his 1968 Nobel acceptance speech, “Japan the Beautiful and Myself,” Òe entitled his speech “Japan the Ambiguous and Myself.” Òe observed that Kawabata, in the twilight of his career, h...
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