Masuji Ono is character is sometimes hard to like. His recollections of the past often paint himself in the best light possible, while readers are shown an unspoken tension with everyone he has interactions with after the war. He suspects that his esteem among his past peers, his past students, and his own family has dropped dangerously low. The truth, that his art lead many to have enough faith in Japan to put their lives on the line, is a silent, but evident concern of Ono's. It is evident that he feels some sense of guilt, and this plays into the things he likes to recall to readers. Most of his stories are stories of the good times, or the times when he was learning to paint or teaching those who always wanted to listen to him.At some points he doesn't even like remembering the good times, saying, "there seems little to be gained in my recalling such things here" (142). His stories, the ones he remembers most vividly and recalls, are those in which he is not broken with shame and guilt. He remembers and recalls the times he was painting, not the day he put his paintings in the attic. He remembers and recalls to readers his mentors and his students who respected him, not the death of his son and wife. At first, this can seem like Ono is hiding himself away, hiding the truth from readers, but in all reality it is a coping mechanism he uses to deal with the guilt and shame he feels but does not always divulge to readers. It is not until he and Noriko go to meet with her potential future husband and his family that readers see inside Ono's mind on the matter for the first time: "I accept that much of what I did was ultimately harmful to our nation, that mine was part of an influence that resulted in untold suffering for our own people. I admit this" (123). This declaration is met with astonishment from those around him, espicially his daughter, who knows he does not readily talk about his past in such a way.
The image I chose is of lit candles for a 9/11 memorial. For many years after 2001, my father and I would do something similar, waking early to light small candles outside of our home on the mornings of 9/11. I was only seven the first year we did this, and I did not entirely understand, but I knew that it was something that my father found important. My father does not do things like this. He can be a giant teddy bear, but usually people look at him more like a grizzly bear. As the years went on, we stopped waking up in the early hours of the morning to light candles, and I think its because the memory of the hurt faded. It is not a shock anymore, but just a part of our lives that 9/11 happened. I feel like this is the general way in which post-war and post-trauma memory works. It is a shock at first, and it is all anyone can think about or see around them. The aftermath of it is everywhere, and it is hard to shake away from. With time, though, it fades. However, for some it does not. Life does not go on. The memories and the deaths of loved ones, and the impact one may have had to encourage the conflict and eventual trauma is haunting. This is what happens with Masuji Ono, and why he tries his best to escape the memories by only recalling the good times and the times in which his shame and his hurt are not front and center.