Japanese Literature and Korean Literature: A Compa
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Japanese Literature and Korean Literature: A Comparison of Tanazaki and Hwang
Concerns fastened to warfare and the ways in which it is experienced by society are elaborated upon both in "Fuel" by Hwang Sun-won and "Lieutenant Lookeast" by Jun\'ichiro Tanizaki. Both stories speak to the experiences of individuals, living in societies in transition, mediating upon the tensions produced within their changing social environments. This essay will attempt to demonstrated how the different uses of images and narrative structure amplify both Japanese and Korean perspectives on social change.
Both Hwang and Tanizaki treat issues of warfare and its affects on society in a different manner. "Fuel" addresses the Korean experience with a focus on how war is impacted on a local level. For example, "Fuel" describes a family in South Korea, afflicted by poverty stemming from the affects of the war. Narrative is done through the voice of a child; and hence, his reality is rendered vivid, closer to the reader, while the other characters are distanced and feelings are not experienced with the same degree of intensity. The story commences with a fragmented style; information is not given explicitly but rather it is conveyed in segments. The beginning is rather starts abruptly and the transition to the second section of the story is as equally abrupt. The story begins with the reader aware of an important event soon to transpire but s/he is given no context in which to place this event. Instead, information is slowly revealed as the reader witnesses the attempt to steal trees from the forest. For example, in the first few paragraphs, the mood is described in detail; however, the setting is not revealed until after the mood is established (Hwang1989: 78). In Part two the setting is revealed immediately but the chapter begins once again at the threshold an intense moment, helping to reproduce the same effect as experienced in part one. By chapter three the mood changes once again; however, this time the reader is slowly lead into the story. In a sense, it could be argued that there exists, within the story, three climactic sequences: The first and the second involving the tree thefts and the gang raids respectively; the third involving the quest to obtain peat. Each event is thwarted by some mishap which disrupts all attempts to obtain "Fuel". The first time it is an officer patrolling Soraden Peak (Hwang1989: 83); the second, by the capture of Ching-won by the railway (Hwang1989: 89); the last by misfortune alone (Hwang1989: 94). Through the recurrence of failure throughout the story an air of hopelessness is produced; the family will forever live a life tainted by misfortune.
The confusion that characterised Korean society during and after the war is amplified through the authors abrupt, fragmented style; that is, this mood is suggestive of Korea\'s social climate. Those who exist on the periphery, caught in a web of politics, are driven into this kind of predicament and, hence, experience these hardships. The seeds of the family\'s misforturne are rooted in a history connected with the war. The boy notes how his father, because of his connection to a communist partisan, his younger brother, was restricted in what he was permitted to engage in, affecting his ability to provide for his family (Hwang1989: 81).
My uncle\'s support of the Communists during their brief occupation had bound my father hand and foot, and he was little better than a prisoner on parole. My family suffered from shortages of countless necessities (Hwang1989: 90).
Here the narrator uses a prison metaphor in order to describe
his father\'s predicament. His uncles actions in conjunction with the social climate produced by the war can be seen as that which manufactures the bond which restrains his father; that which prevents him from participating in society at a normal level. It is, therefore, the cause of his suffering. In a sense, the father\'s situation is unique to Korea because it is embedded in historical relations between the north and south, i.e., communist and democratic ideologies.
Throughout the story the lens through which the reader sees does not open up and encompass, to a large extent, the feelings and sentiments felt throughout society; rather, the family\'s experiences are its focus. This allows the author to demonstrate
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Style, Fiction, Mood, Korean literature, Junichir Tanizaki, Narration, Japanese literature, Narrative, North Korea
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