The meaning of the essays title is made clear in this

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Unformatted text preview: ly way I could qualify myself as a “friend of the people.” Liquor was not enough. I was perpetually prey to a terrible dizziness. That was why I had no choice but to take to drugs. I had to forget my family. I had to oppose my father’s blood. I had to reject my mother’s gentleness. I had to be cold to my sister. I thought that otherwise I would not be able to secure an admission ticket for the rooms of the people.6 The decline of Japan’s old order is a major theme in The Setting Sun, and the death of the mother before her son’s suicide may be interpreted as symbolizing the fate of that order after defeat in war. But, to millions of fervid readers, what seemed more importantly to have set was the sun of Japan itself, and perhaps no other novel of the period so effectively 310 Culture in the Present Age evokes the sense of spiritual disintegration that engulfed the Japanese at the war’s end. Only through the character of the sister, Kazuko (the book’s narrator), does Dazai suggest a glimmer of hope for the future. Determined to have a child by a tubercular, drunken artist friend of her brother’s, Kazuko proclaims with a ferocity of will totally lacking in Dazai himself: I must go on living. And, though it may be childish of me, I can’t go on in simple compliance. From now on I must struggle with the world. I thought Mother might well be the last of those who can end their lives beautifully and sadly, struggling with no one, neither hating nor betraying anyone. In the world to come there will be no room for such people. The dying are beautiful, but to live, to survive—those things somehow seem hideous and contaminated with blood. I curled myself on the floor and tried to twist my body into the posture, as I remembered it, of a pregnant snake digging a hole. But there was something to which I could not resign myself. Call it low-minded of me, if you will, I must survive and struggle with the world in order to accomplish my desires. Now that it was clear that Mother would soon die, my romanticism and sentimentality were gradually vanishing, and I felt as...
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