The Sound of Waves

by

Yukio Mishima

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The Sound of Waves: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Shinji can now visit the Miyata house openly. He arrives one night after fishing to collect Hatsue—they are going to visit the Yashiro Shrine and then the lighthouse to announce their engagement and give thanks to the lighthouse-keeper’s wife. At the shrine, as Shinji and Hatsue stoop to pray, he realizes that he has been given everything he’s prayed to the sea-god for. He gives thanks for a long time, then offers a fresh red snapper to the shrine’s priest. The priest congratulates Hatsue and Shinji and offers to officiate their wedding.
Shinji and Hatsue know that they are not alone in the journey of their love. They believe that nature, the gods, the community, and the island itself have all played a part in nurturing them and helping to guide them toward one another. Shinji and Hatsue selflessly give thanks in this passage, demonstrating that they have come into their own as mature partners and lovers.
Themes
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Related Quotes
At the lighthouse, Shinji calls out to announce their presence. The lighthouse-keeper’s wife opens the door and excitedly invites Shinji and Hatsue in. She happily tells them that Chiyoko is returning home tomorrow at long last. Shinji, who knows nothing of all the emotions his journey has aroused in Chiyoko, thinks nothing of the comment. After staying for dinner, Shinji and Hatsue agree to let the lighthouse-keeper give them a tour of the lighthouse and see its bright beacon.
Shinji and Hatsue’s courtship has been defined by the debilitating forces of gossip and rumor—but even now, they are not aware of the root of all that strife. Chiyoko was the instigator of their misery—yet she did what she needed to do to repair the things she’d broken.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
At the top, the lighthouse-keeper leaves Shinji and Hatsue alone so that they can enjoy the beauty of the rotating beacon. Though darkness stretches ahead of them in all directions, the beam wafts its light around everywhere. Shinji holds Hatsue and thinks deeply about how his little island, “enfolded in darkness” as it is, has protected his and Hatsue’s love. Hatsue reaches into her sleeve and pulls out the pink shell Shinji gave her. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out the picture Hatsue gave him. Hatsue becomes emotional, believing her picture protected Shinji from the typhoon. Shinji, however, knows that his own strength is what guided him through the perilous night.
In the novel’s final lines, Mishima uses the metaphor of the lighthouse’s beacon shining through the darkness to suggest that Shinji and Hatsue will continue to light one another’s way through even the darkest times in life. Shinji’s love for Hatsue gives him strength and confidence—yet Mishima ultimately argues that it is the lessons Shinji has learned from nature that have given him the deep inner strength to forge onward with or without Hatsue at his side. Hatsue, too, has grown stronger because of what the sea has taught her. Though the ocean is dark, cold, and unknowable—just like life—devoted love and inner strength can give a person the power to go on.
Themes
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Related Quotes