I feel like most of this book went over my head. Wikipedia tells me that it has themes of changing time eras and the development of women’s roles in society, but I thought the story simple to the point of distraction.
The narrator meets a man whom he only refers to as Sensei. Though the man is older and married they strike up a friendship. The narrator admires Sensei greatly often visiting him for advice on life. He gets to know both Sensei and his wife and theirs is a happy marriage, but there is a great secret.
Sensei visits the grave of a friend once a month, but he will not tell the narrator who this friend is. The narrator’s father falls ill and he has to visit home, being separated from Sensei. I probably shouldn’t give away the ending here, but the story of the friend is explained in the last part of the book.
Okay I’m giving away the ending; It was just so predictable. Again, I may not be smart enough to grasp the nuances of the story telling, but to me it seemed a simple book of love and the decency of humanity. We hear the story of Sensei as a young man in love with a woman and dealing with his friend K, who is obviously troubled. K loves the same woman as Sensei, but Sensei proposes first, feeling much guilt. K then kills himself, but not just because he didn’t get the woman, also because he believed in the purity of life and his love for the girl was a distraction. Sensei is never happy after this, he deceived his friend who then killed himself, so i guess that’s understandable. The whole point of the book is here:
“On the whole, all people are good, or at least they’re normal. The frightening thing is that they can suddenly turn bad when it comes to the crunch.”
Sensei arranges his life in the shadows of his unhappy youth finally killing himself as a penance for what he did to his friend. That’s it. I wasn’t impressed really and so now I feel stupid.