Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai Term Paper

Pages: 5 (1483 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

¶ … Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai

Osamu Dazai's masterpiece "The setting sun" (originally Shayo) was written in 1947 and it is a remarkable story about the decline of a Japanese aristocratic family. In his work, Dazai approaches many social issues and presents how Japanese values, sustained by aristocratic families, interact with the changes of society and culture.

The word "shayozoku" (impoverished aristocracy) developed from the word "shayo" (setting sun), its meaning describing the people that lost their world during the war, precisely following the story presented in Dazai's work (Osamu Dazai).

The action of "The setting sun" takes place in Japan after the Second World War and it presents the story of an aristocratic family that is faced with the downfall of its world and its values. The novel presents how traditions and etiquette changed in the postwar period and the difficult road that aristocracy must take following the dramatic changes in the social conditions in postwar Japan. "This may not be the way of eating soup that etiquette dictates, but to me it is most appealing and somehow really genuine. As a matter of fact, it is as Mother does, sitting serenely erect, that when you look down to it. But being, in Naoji's words, a high-class beggar and unable to eat with Mother's effortless ease, I bend over the plate in the gloomy fashion prescribed by proper etiquette" (Dazai).Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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Term Paper on Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai Assignment

The center character of "The setting sun" is Kazuko, a young woman that adopts western clothes and habits, but that is really Japanese in her outlook. She values Japanese traditions, but considers that she must adapt to an increasing westernized world. Finally, after going through several difficult challenges, she decides to have a child with Uehara hoping that she can reshape her moral through this child. Although Kazuko seems adapted to the challenges of modernization during the postwar period, she struggles to brake free from the traditional education she was given and rebuild her life and her family's situation given the new circumstances. Despite the critical financial situation her family is in, Kazuko is always hopeful for the future and her letters show not only great hope, but also a great sensibility.

If Kazuko is realistic about the changes that take place in the Japanese society, her mother refuses to abandon her aristocratic way of life and holds on to the traditional values she cherishes. As described by her son, Naoji, the mother is considered to be the last genuine aristocrat. Taking into consideration the social conditions at the time the action takes place, this is not necessarily a compliment.

Naoji returns from the war and is faced with the changes that take place in his family. He represents the greatest hope for his mother and sister, but he returns from war as a drug addict and he has to face the failure of his own life and the failure of his world as he knew it, this eventually leading him to suicide.

Dazai manages to mix the stories of members from the same family facing the realities of modernization and this way he creates a universally valid image of the social changes in the Japanese society. Kazuko's family is the exponent of the Japanese postwar society and Dazai uses this story to present the realities of a changing world.

The Setting Sun" "deals with themes of class, war, suicide, death, and morality" (the Setting Sun), and it represents a well documented analysis of a period of transition in morals in Japanese society. "A disparity between Western and Japanese culture mirrors the conflict between Japan and the United States" (the Setting Sun).

The inability of the Japanese society to adapt to the new social order is described by Dazai in his novel using the story of the disintegration of an aristocratic family. The decay of traditional Japanese morals is seen in Kazuko's decision to have a child with Uehara, an unfitted match for a woman from her class, especially as he was a drunken writer. Her decision to have his child shows that she is forced to adapt to the new conditions and that she rejects her old life in an attempt to rebuild a new one.

Referring to the status of aristocracy in the postwar Japanese society, Naoji states that "Just because a person has a title doesn't make him an aristocrat" (Dazai). The difference between the old society and the new society is pointed out in the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai.  (2007, February 27).  Retrieved April 12, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai."  27 February 2007.  Web.  12 April 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Setting Sun by Osamu Dazai."  February 27, 2007.  Accessed April 12, 2021.