Zachary Byrne
World Literature #2
Mrs. R. Tisdale
IB English V
4 February, 2010
Chief??™s Delight: A Creative Analysis of the Character of the Chief in
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea, by Yukio Mishima, is the story of Ryuji, a sailor who meets a woman, Fusako, and her son, Noboru, in the port town of Yokohama. During Ryuji??™s stay, he develops a tentative, romantic relationship with Fusako. Noboru, a boy of around 13 years old, has taken to spying on their relationship, watching the couple interact. He even watches them fornicate through a hole in the wall. Noboru idolizes Ryuji for the first part of the story, telling his gang of friends all about Ryuji??™s actions. The gang is a group of boys from middle class families who come together to learn what they can about life from the Chief, the self appointed leader of the group. Their philosophy on life is a bleak one, promoting a total lack of emotion or compassion for any living thing. At first, they are all thrilled about the sailor, Ryuji, but once Ryuji??™s originally unapparent, conflicting emotions begin to show, the gang??™s feelings quickly turn to those of contempt. Noboru, unhappy to see his hero falling from the Chief??™s good grace, is delighted when Ryuji must cast off again and leave town.
Ryuji??™s fatal mistake is his return to Yokohama, and in turn, Fusako. Noboru is furious that Ryuji would sink to such a level and come crawling back to his mother. When Ryuji decides to stay in Yokohama and marry Fusako, Noboru is furious. The gang, especially the Chief, is sickened by this pitiful display of emotion. The Chief offers one way to save Ryuji from becoming ???the worst thing on the face of this earth, a father???, death (Mishima 162). The gang makes all the arrangements for the murder of Ryuji. The next day, Noboru tricks Ryuji into coming with the gang on an outing. Thinking it is the fatherly thing to do; Ryuji accepts and goes willingly to his death. The gang drugs him and the last scene leads the reader to believe that Ryuji is dissected, just as the gang had done to a cat earlier in the story. At the very end, Ryuji had found the ???glory??? he had been searching for all his life. (Mishima 181)
Though the novel ends before the genuine death of Ryuji, context clues, such as the Chief??™s surgical gloves and the original plans made by gang, indicate that Ryuji does indeed die and is dissected by the Chief. The following chapter is written in Mishima??™s style and seeks to explore the mind of the Chief, a very interesting, but rarely referred to character in the novel. This chapter details the inferred dissection of Ryuji from the Chief??™s objective perspective, giving insight into the cold heart of the gang??™s leader. The cold, bestial imagery will be prominent throughout the passage helping to characterize the Chief, revealing his true nature. The powerful, persuasive ideas the Chief preaches permeate the entire novel, and with an analysis of the Chief??™s perspective, a better understanding of Mishima??™s work might be achieved.
Winter- Chapter 8
The chief watched as the Ryuji??™s solid, muscle-bound form slowly slumped to the side. The drugs had worked perfectly, bringing a once-strong sailor to the ground. He sees the potential in this inert body, still gently pulsing with life, the potential for glory. True glory, not the kind he heard about from the silly dreamers his father would bring to the house, always wishing for something that had no real meaning other than to assuage their own self image. No, he saw the glorious potential for this man that would soon cease to be a man and transform into something far greater. The chief looked up at his companions. Number three was shaking harder than he had been, carelessly showing emotion, and in it, weakness. The others were consoling him. These sniveling boys were simply imposters in his domain, acting as though they understood, but in reality, only there to be with him. He was inwardly disgusted with them, but every prophet needs a following to preach to. At that moment, however, the chief had no time for weakness; Greatness was upon them.
???Stop,??? the chief commanded with a savage glare, ???This is a chance for him and us, and you all are wasting it through your petty words. Steel yourselves. True life is beginning now.??? Immediately, the gang??™s chattering ceased and the chief felt his power over them tighten like a tether, binding them to his whim. He picked up the scissors with the greatest care, then, with a horrific, guttural cry, stabbed them mercilessly into the dead body of Ryuji, right where the great chest muscles met with the nape of the neck. A startled gasp echoed throughout the small cave as the rest of the gang jumped from surprise. The chief smirked at the boyish display, knowing that he was the only one in the cave who grasped what was truly taking place. The scissors felt cool in his hand, his preferred weapon, his tooth and claw. They sliced easily through Ryuji??™s skin to his navel. One long smooth cut, no room for sloppiness on this occasion. There was blood on the scissors; the chief felt a surge of excitement. He continued carving from the original wound to the shoulders, tough from heaving ropes at sea. Jarringly, the silver tool hit a bone, startling him and the others. The chief reprimanded himself and put down the scissors. Slowly, carefully, he peeled back the skin from the life inside. Swaddled in skin, life had masqueraded as a human, a sailor, but once that mask had been pulled off, the chief saw the same life as in the cat, always the same life.
The dark red blood flowed over the glisteningly pale ribs, like a river moving out to the sea that was the large pool in the abdomen. The chief dipped his finger into the pool, lightly, as if to just brush the top. The tip of his tongue reached out ever so slightly to lap at this little drop of red. The warm, metallic taste reminded him of the ships this man used to travel the world on, the ships he used to be a part of. But now he was a part of something larger, and vastly more important. The chief was proud of his hand in this merging of man and earth. The pool of blood around the stomach finally welled up to an extent where the levees of flesh could no longer hold it at bay. Rivulets of blood began to seep over the tan walls and join the earth. The chief knew the source of all this life and warmth was trapped within this useless body, but he could not see it. The ribs had imprisoned it, as if the corpse was trying to hold on to this life at all costs. The pitiful nature of the human body sickened him. The chief knew what must be done. They must break these bonds and set the life free, release it of its shackles of flesh.
???Number one, number three and number five, take those ribs on the other side. You other two come by me,??? the chief commanded. The boys shuffled to their designated spots like the sheep they were, and he was the wolf.
???On three??¦ We pull,??? he proclaimed gleefully, ???One, two, three!??? With a savage intensity, the boys put all of their youthful strength into pulling back the bars of the white cage. One by one, the ribs broke with a wet crunch, signaling that that boy was finished. All but the chief wiped their hands on the ground nervously, foolish in the eyes of their leader. He might have reproached them if he hadn??™t more pressing matters to attend to. They had broken the obstructions guilty of ensnaring the life within the shell of flesh. They had opened the cage; now it was time to set the prisoner free. The chief plunged his hand down into the warm damp chest, searching for the lightly pulsing life force that was still within. His hand wrapped around the heart, feeling its glorious throbbing. With a flourish, the chief tore the heart from its cell, disregarding all subtlety. He had liberated it, bringing it into the world and, in doing so, gave it what is so rightly deserved. He walked with the gang outside the cave, carrying the dripping prize in both his gloved hands, looking like a doctor halfway through a transplant. Number two gouged out a small hole in the earth, and the chief slowly laid the heart within it. The throbbing had ceased, signifying to him that his mission had succeeded. He had made this man more than he could have ever been himself. He had brought him what he had always sought, glory. The glory of truly living, if even for a mere two minutes. Word Count:1516