An Artist of the Floating World

by

Kazuo Ishiguro

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Setsuko Character Analysis

Mannerly, self-deprecating, and indirect, Setsuko is Ono’s older daughter. Ono thinks she is not as attractive as her sister, but gains in dignity and attractiveness as she ages. She marries Suichi before the war and is a mother to the young Ichiro. Setsuko is the one who gently suggests to Ono that there may be something in the family past which is getting in the way of her sister Noriko’s marrying. Later in the novel, when she sees that Ono believes she had been referring to his wartime career as a propaganda artist, Setsuko tells her father that she never thought his art had enough of a reputation to damage the prestige of the family. However, because Ono’s narration is unreliable and Setsuko herself is so political in her speech, it remains unclear whether this is true.

Setsuko Quotes in An Artist of the Floating World

The An Artist of the Floating World quotes below are all either spoken by Setsuko or refer to Setsuko. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of An Artist of the Floating World published in 1986.
October 1948 Quotes

It is now already a thing of some fifteen years ago. In those days, when my circumstances seemed to improve with each month, my wife had begun to press me to find a new house. With her usual foresight, she had argued the importance of our having a house in keeping with our status — not out of vanity, but for the sake of our children's marriage prospects. I saw the sense in this, but since Setsuko, our eldest, was still only fourteen or fifteen, I did not go about the matter with any urgency. Nevertheless, for a year or so, whenever I heard of a suitable house for sale, I would remember to make enquiries.

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Setsuko, Michiko Ono
Page Number: 7-8
Explanation and Analysis:
November 1949 Quotes

'Noriko hasn't told you about the miai? Well, I made sure that evening there'd be no obstacles to her happiness on account of my career. I dare say I would have done so in any case, but I was nevertheless grateful for your advice last year.'

'Forgive me, Father, but I don't recall offering any advice last year. As for the matter of the miai, however, Noriko has indeed mentioned it to me a number of times. Indeed, she wrote to me soon after the miai expressing surprise at Father’s . . . at Father’s words about himself.’

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Setsuko (speaker), Noriko
Page Number: 190-191
Explanation and Analysis:

'Let me assure you, Setsuko, I wouldn't for a moment consider the sort of action Naguchi took. But then I am not too proud to see that I too was a man of some influence, who used that influence towards a disastrous end.'

My daughter seemed to consider this for a moment. Then she said: 'Forgive me, but it is perhaps important to see things in a proper perspective. Father painted some splendid pictures, and was no doubt most influential amongst other such painters. But Father's work had hardly to do with these larger matters of which we are speaking. Father was simply a painter. He must stop believing he has done some great wrong.'

Related Characters: Masuji Ono (speaker), Setsuko (speaker), Yukio Naguchi
Page Number: 192-193
Explanation and Analysis:
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Setsuko Character Timeline in An Artist of the Floating World

The timeline below shows where the character Setsuko appears in An Artist of the Floating World. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
October 1948
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Ono recalls his married daughter Setsuko’s visit the previous month. On the morning after Setsuko’s arrival, Ono and his two daughters... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...whether “the monster is prehistoric.” Ono has no idea what Ichiro is talking about, but Setsuko explains that Ichiro saw a movie poster with a monster on it that sparked his... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Left alone with her father, Setsuko asks if Noriko’s marriage is imminent. Ono tells her it is not and recounts how... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Setsuko says that she imagines it was a terrible blow for Noriko when, the year before,... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
In the present, Ono explains that it may seem like he was short with Setsuko, but this was not the first time she had questioned him about the Miyakes’ withdrawal... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
Ono returns to his account of Setsuko’s visit of the month before. Leaving his daughters talking on the veranda, Ono goes to... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
Eventually Ono goes out to the veranda and finds Setusko sitting there. Noriko and Ichiro are in the garden below. Ono sits with Setsuko and... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...the deer park can wait, but Noriko says they also plan to visit Mrs. Watanabe. Setsuko thanks her father for his generosity towards Ichiro and suggests that they go to the... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Ono rejoins his daughters. Setsuko asks him gently if he will accompany them the next day, but Ono replies that... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
The next day, Setsuko enters the reception room to find Ono standing there lost in thought. Ono explains that... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...that he sees he has digressed. He returns the narrative to the second day of Setsuko’s visit, when she found him in the reception room. Setsuko is arranging flowers in front... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Setsuko laughs nervously and apologizes for being so bad at expressing herself. She says Suichi would... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...shifts to the present, and Ono describes how, reflecting on this conversation he had with Setsuko, he feels irritated. He realizes that his irritation is not directed at Setsuko so much... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...something to do with the Miyakes’ decision to withdraw from talks. He wonders aloud to Setsuko, who is visiting again, if Jiro seemed awkward because he already knew that his family... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
...at ease and had not paid much attention to what was said. Ono suggests to Setsuko that perhaps Jiro was self-conscious about his workplace in front of Ono and this was... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Setsuko seems to have new theories, instilled in her by Suichi, for why Noriko’s marriage fell... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...the ceremony at the cemetery, Ono sees Suichi walk away looking angry. After the ceremony, Setsuko explains to Ono that Suichi has been to many similar ceremonies, and they make him... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...typical of him and that he no longer behaved as he had when he married Setsuko, two years before the war. Ono agrees with Suichi that too many members of his... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...last month when he took Ichiro to the monster movie. On that day, Noriko and Setsuko do not accompany them to the movie, and Ichiro says that it is because they... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...that Ichiro brought the raincoat to hide under it. But at dinner with Noriko and Setsuko that night, Ichiro says it was the best movie he has ever seen. He says... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...in taking Ichiro to the monster movie, then goes to sit with her nephew, leaving Setsuko and Ono alone together. Setsuko says how good Noriko is with children and how sad... (full context)
April 1949
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
City, Nation, History Theme Icon
...be weighted towards the groom’s side with Taro Saito’s mother, father, and brother all there. Setsuko is far away, and there is no one else to invite, so only Noriko and... (full context)
November 1949
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
...run into one another. He remembers this first meeting clearly enough that he is sure Setsuko was mistaken in some of the things she said the previous month during their walk... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Setsuko’s visit this year was brief, and she stayed with Taro and Noriko at their new... (full context)
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
That day, Setsuko and Ono met Noriko and Ichiro by a statue, and then Ono took Ichiro to... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...age. Ichiro says that his mother might give them trouble. Ono says he will handle Setsuko. Ichiro says women don’t understand men drinking, then laughs again at the idea that Noriko... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Ono tells Setsuko and Noriko that he wants to give Ichiro a taste of diluted sake, but his... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...regrets bringing Kenji up in such a trivial disagreement and hardly pays attention to what Setsuko says next. He cannot be sure that he remembers it correctly, but he thinks she... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...that this story is of limited relevance, because he means to recount what happened during Setsuko’s visit last month: that night, Taro tells amusing stories about his work. Ono is uncomfortable... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...have happened quickly but says that he thinks Japan is finally on a good path. Setsuko says that Suichi feels the same way. Taro says that he went to a high... (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...that it is, he accepts this quietly, but Ono empathizes with Ichiro’s disappointment, feeling that Setsuko should not have been so stubborn. (full context)
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...with Ichiro until his grandson falls asleep. Sitting there, he begins to turn over what Setsuko said to him that morning in Kawabe Park and to grow annoyed by it. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...art world and knew one another by reputation. Taro agrees, and Ono looks pointedly at Setsuko, but she gives no sign that she understands the significance of Taro’s agreement. (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...describes the events that passed earlier that day in Kawabe Park: walking along, Ono and Setsuko say how glad they are that Noriko’s marriage worked out. Ono says that it was... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Ono and Setsuko continue walking. Setsuko says that Taro told her that Ono brought up Yukio Naguchi, a... (full context)
Memory, Self-Perception, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
The Relevance of the Artist Theme Icon
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
Setsuko continues, saying the Saitos were puzzled by Ono’s behavior at the miai. Ono says he... (full context)
June 1950
Family Reputation, Family Secrets, and Familial Loss Theme Icon
Intergenerational Conflict Theme Icon
...after Noriko, and Ono tells him that Noriko is pregnant with her first child, and Setsuko is also expecting another child. Matsuda congratulates Ono. (full context)