The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea by Yukio Mishima tells the story of Noburo, a member of a lunatic gang of 13-year-old boys that, regarding the adult world as illusory, react violently to an affair Noburo's mother, Fusako Kuroda, has with a ship's officer named Ryuji Tsukazaki.
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Noburo, an angry young boy with a sadistic streak, has lost his father five years before the book's beginning. His mother, Fusako, is a lonely women who owns a clothing shop that specializes in western imports. Noburo, absent of guidance, joins a gang lead by a child the same age as him that they all call the Chief. Each of the boys is given a number as opposed to a name.
The book begins with Fusako locking Noboru in his room after he is caught sneaking out. While confined, Noburo reveals a secret to the reader—a peephole he discovered in a dresser that, when he climbs in, allows him to spy on his own mother while she undresses. The night of his grounding, however, his mother is not alone. He observes as a sailor, Ryuji, making love to her.
Ryuji himself wrestles with the prospect of loving Fusako, being that his heart, as he explains it, resides with the sea. Shortly after the affair begins, Noburo's gang, in an initiative led by the chief, go on to commit a grizzly event in order to obliterate, as they see it, their remaining vestiges of their humanity. In line with the odd philosophy of ‘objectivism', they murder and mutilate a cat.
At first, Noburo and the gang appear to have respect for the Ryuji. They find honor in the way in which he simply comes to land to take what he wants before returning to his true passion. Until Ryuji and Fusako become closer, that is. When Ryuji decides to marry Noburo's mother in particular, the children take the act as an offense. The Chief unleashes a diatribe on how all fathers are despicable, and proclaim that Ryuji has transgressed in an irreparable manner.
In the final pages of the book, the children decide, in accordance with their unhinged philosophy, that, in order to restore Ryuji's honor as a free man, they must murder him. The boys invite Ryuji to visit their clan, requesting he tell them stories of the sea. Ryuji complies, and as he does so, it seems, begins to realize his own transgressions, agreeing overall with the children's logic. The boys then murder Ryuji, and the novel ends on a somber note.
Best part of story, including ending:
I both like and hate that it depicts the depravity of children.
Best scene in story:
I think it's interesting and frightening when the children lead Ryuji to a secret place to murder him. It fills me with dread.
Opinion about the main character:
I dislike Noburo's inability to think for himself.