The Sound of Waves

by

Yukio Mishima

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The Sound of Waves: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Several days later, the wind is so strong and the waves so rough that not a single fishing-boat is out on the ocean. Shinji’s mother has asked him to bring down a store of firewood she gathered and left on a nearby mountain so that it doesn’t get too wet. Shinji brings a wooden frame to carry the wood with him up the mountain and past the lighthouse. At the top of the mountain—the highest point on the island—Shinji can hear nothing but the roar of the sea. He inspects an old abandoned building near the mountaintop—once a wartime watchtower, the building now houses the extra wood that the village women gather. Shinji finds his mother’s pile, attaches the bundle to his frame, and prepares to go—but then he hears a strange sound on an upper floor of the tower. 
Even on one of his rare days off, Shinji doesn’t focus on taking time for himself—instead, he gets right to work helping his mother. This demonstrates his selfless nature. As Shinji climbs the mountain and looks around, he finds himself mesmerized by the power of nature and his island’s past. Shinji is very clearly a young man with reverence for the lessons of history and nature alike.
Themes
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Shinji heads upstairs to the roof, where he finds Hatsue alone and sobbing in the wind. Shinji asks Hatsue why she is crying. She tells him that she lost her way while headed to the lighthouse, where she is due to attend etiquette classes given by the lighthouse-keeper’s wife. Shinji tells Hatsue that he will lead her down the mountain to the lighthouse. Hatsue smiles and asks about the building, so Shinji tells her about the building’s history and points out some local landmarks nearby.
As Shinji and Hatsue talk for the first time, Shinji remains spellbound by her beauty but confident enough to help teach her about the island which is both familiar and foreign to her. Shinji genuinely likes Hatsue and wants to help her feel better—again, this is evidence of Shinji’s selfless, reverent nature.
Themes
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Hatsue suggests they head out. Shinji notices a black smudge on her sweater. As he stares at it, Hatsue follows Shinji’s gaze and begins wiping the smudge out. As she brushes the dirt away, Shinji is mesmerized by the movement of her breasts beneath her sweater, yet his thoughts about Hatsue’s beauty are tender rather than lewd.
Shinji is, without a doubt, physically attracted to Hatsue. As this passage demonstrates, however, even as Shinji ogles Hatsue’s body, he does so with tenderness and reverence for her beauty, grace, and charm. Shinji’s devotion to Hatsue is pure and authentic—he doesn’t want her for her body or her money, but for who she is.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
On the way back down the mountain, Hatsue at last asks Shinji’s name. The two introduce themselves to one another, though Shinji already knows who Hatsue is. Shinji points out the lighthouse to Hatsue when they reach it—but knowing how much the villagers love to gossip, he asks her not to tell anyone that they met alone on the mountaintop. Hatsue promises. Shinji feels that their meeting is suddenly charged with secrecy and intrigue.
This passage foreshadows the drama and gossip that will swirl around Hatsue and Shinji as they grow closer to one another. Shinji knows that on the small island of Uta-jima, there exists a profound thirst for excitement and gossip—he wants to protect his pure connection to Hatsue from those destructive forces, but he will soon find that he may not be able to do so.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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