Post-Tragedy Memory: Why forgetting is so hard

In Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, An Artist of the Floating World, his main character, Masuji Ono, had lived through the tragedies suffered by the Japanese people during World War II. For Masuji, living in a post-tragedy world means being haunted by memories, both good and bad, almost constantly. One of the most common memories Masiju has is his time as sensei, a leader and mentor to students studying art. However, his memory of being a sensei is confusing, as he is constantly fighting whether or not he was as influential as others saw him to be before the war. One of the best examples of this is when his student, Shintaro, was thanking his sensei for helping him secure an appointment. The praise that Shintaro showered upon his sensei brought him to the realization that he had achieved more than he was aware of, "The visit-I must admit it- left me with a certain feeling of achievement...A few years earlier, such a thing would have been inconceivable and yet I had brought myself to such a position almost without realizing it" (21). Despite the various revelations that Masuji has about his influence, he continues to deny and humble himself into believing that he truly was someone that was respected, "'I do not think...that Mr. Kuroda would have a particularly high opinion of me.'... 'On the contrary, I'm sure he would have the highest opinion of you, Mr. Ono.'" (123). Masuji's humility is one of the most common characteristics seen throughout the book. I think that he looks fondly back at his time as a sensei, and because of the tragedy that happened during the war, he has a hard time coming to accepting that he may still be respected and admired by the same people in the same way that he was before the war.



My image shows a statue located in Seattle of Sadako Sasaki, a young girl who was diagnosed with leukemia after her home town of Hiroshima was bombed. She was two years old when the bomb was dropped, and ten years old when her symptoms started to show. The cause of her illness came from the nuclear radiation that she was exposed to as a baby. While she was ill, she started a project of folding paper cranes, with a goal of making one thousand, doing so because of the Japanese legend that anybody who folded one thousand paper cranes would be granted a wish. Her wish was simply, to live. She died at the age of ten, having completed six hundred and forty-four cranes. Her family and friends completed the rest and more, and the cranes were buried with her. The paper crane is now a symbol of peace in Japan, and Sadako's likeness is depicted in a statue at the Hiroshima Peace Park with the inscription, "This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace on Earth." This is a strong and heartbreaking way that those in Japan remember and honor those who suffered after the bombings.

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