Non-Western Literature

Discussion Questions for Mishima


These questions should be reviewed before reading the material, as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
Paul Schrader made a film titled Mishima in 1985 that dramatizes 3 of Mishima's novels as well as giving some of his personal background, including his final day of life. You might want to rent this if you can find it. It can be difficult to find, and isn't an easy movie to follow if you don't already know Mishima's life story or the novels, but it can help give you a broader perspective on his worldview.
  1. Mishima, like Marquez in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, tells us from the very beginning what is going to happen at the end of the story. Why? Why wouldn't he want this to be a surprise?

  2. Even though Shinji's actions are the core of the story, Mishima focuses the reader's attention on Reiko and her responses to what happens. Why?

  3. Why exactly do Shinji and Reiko commit this action? Explain as best as you can. You may not be able to explain all the psychological and emotional reasons, but can you at least explain the professional/historical reasons.

  4. Explain the importance of Reiko's final actions. Mishima goes to great lengths to show us what she does at the end, so there has to be a reason. What is it?

  5. One aspect of Japanese literature that is often commented on is its attention to important visual details. What sort of visual details are emphasized in this story, and what do they add to the reading experience?