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In: Novels

Submitted By blaine
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The book Kokoro is a novel written by Natsume Soseki. This novel was written in 1914, which is when the drastic change in Japanese culture was taking effect. The book is set into three different parts. The book is explained throughout the book by a narrator who the reader does not know the identity of Sensei. The book deals with the transition from the Japanese “Meiji Era” to the “Modern Era.” Throughout the book it is exploring the friendship between an adolescent man and an older man he calls 'Sensei' who are accustomed to different eras they live in. Throughout the novel we see the changing roles and relationships of women in society, various values that are changing, and the entire identity of older Japanese values. The first section begins with the narrator who is a college student, approaching the independence of an adult life but with weak emotions. The narrator begins a friendship and fascination with Sensei. Sensei lives a lives a life of solidarity and tries to avoid other people and will only socialize with friends during special occasions. Sensei has a wife, but he treats her very poorly throughout the book. The student notices that Sensei is secretive and wants to find out more about him. The second section of the book shows the narrator mostly with his family and away from Sensei. The narrator’s father is sick and he stays bedside with him. The parents think that the narrator is their family's future to carry the family into further generations because of his intelligence. Sensei and a previous student known as “K” are in the middle of a love triangle over a young women. Sensei believes that he had caused “K” to commit suicide because of the love triangle. The final part of the book shows Sensei's monolog. He talks about being betrayed and betraying others. We see that Sensei becomes very depressed, and his emotions drastically change after the death of General Nogi Maresuke who committed “junshi” after the death of the Meiji Emperor. General Maresuke was someone who Sensei admired and decided to commit suicide himself. He wrote a letter to his student and told him the reason why he decided to commit suicide but asked his student not to tell his wife. This novel can be used as a primary source of Japanese history because the narrator is explaining throughout the book the various changes that are taking place in Japan. Natsume Soseki was a famous Japanese author known for his work during the Meiji period and has shown reliable information during this time period. The book shows the gap in generations between the student and Sensei, which is shown through the different ideas that each one had. During this time, Japan was transitioning from the “Meiji Era” to the “Modern Era.” This was a revolutionary time because significant new ideas were being accepted by the Japanese culture. We can see the changing in eras by moving the capital from Edo to Tokyo. Sensei was very against change and the idea of new modern conveniences. We see the acceptance of Western culture becoming a part of Japan and the Japanese people welcoming this change with open arms. The traditional Japanese lifestyle was drastically changing by adapting to different culture values and lifestyles. Sensei does not to fit in with society, which probably led him to his deep loneliness. The Japanese people were accepting new and different items from the Western world, which went against previous ideas that Japan should be closed off from other countries. In previous eras, foreigners and luxury items were looked down upon because of the amount of nationalism that was taking place in Japan. Now the reader sees that Japan wants to be accepted by the Western world integrate various cultural ideas into Japanese society. We can see that Japan is becoming more industrialized with the addition of railroads for transportation. Sensei’s wife, who was treated quite poorly, would now begin to have greater privileges in the new “Modern Era.” We see this as a big change in the Japanese way of life because women were repressed throughout history. Throughout Kokoro we see a transformation in the lifestyles of the Japanese people with the integration of Western products.…...

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