The Sound of Waves

by

Yukio Mishima

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The Sound of Waves: Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the days that follow his meeting with Hatsue, Shinji transforms from a peaceful, contented young man into a brooding, sad one. He feels certain that he will never be able to win Hatsue’s affections—as a poor fisherman, he feels both socially and ideologically cut off from the rich, beautiful, worldly young woman. Living on a remote island without access to novels or movies, Shinji is unschooled in the ways of love and uncertain of how to get more alone time with Hatsue.
This passage demonstrates how class and wealth dictate many aspects of life—even on a small island like Uta-jima, where it would seem that class stratifications might be more easily transcended due to the tight-knit nature of the community.
Themes
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Class, Wealth, and Power Theme Icon
On the monthly commemoration of the day of Shinji’s father’s death, Shinji, Hiroshi, and their mother head to the graveyard to visit Shinji’s father’s grave in the early morning hours. There, they light incense and lay down flowers together. Shinji and his brother bow to their father’s headstone as their mother weeps behind them. Shinji’s father was killed toward the end of the war after a plane dropped a bomb on his fishing boat. Shinji reminisces aloud about fishing with his father, but the young Hiroshi is distracted by thoughts of an upcoming school trip. Shinji, who was too poor to go on the trip himself when he was in school, has taken money from his own wages to fund Hiroshi’s spot on the trip.
This passage demonstrates how devoted Shinji is to his family, to tradition, and to putting others’ needs before his own. Shinji is dealing with his own inner emotional turmoil, yet he puts that all aside to focus on mourning his father, supporting his mother, and ensuring that his brother has a better youth than he himself was able to have. Shinji derives his worth not from hoarding material goods or spending his own money, but from sharing his meager resources with those who need them more. 
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Power Theme Icon
On the way down to the beach to start preparing for a day on the Taihei-maru, Shinji hears someone on the docks gossiping: it’s rumored that Yasuo Kawamoto and Hatsue are going to be married. Distressed by the news, Shinji spends the day on the boat throwing himself into his work even more strenuously than usual. After returning to the harbor and selling their catch, Shinji and Ryuji head to the office of the Co-operative, where they collect their pay for the last ten days’ work. Shinji removes his pay from an envelope bearing his name, counts it, puts it back into the envelope, and tucks it into his sweater.
Shinji is particularly distressed by the news about Yasuo and Hatsue because he feels it confirms what he already knows on some level: that even true love is not a strong enough force to interrupt the supremacy of wealth and class as markers of what makes a good spouse. Shinji truly loves Hatsue—but he fears Yasuo has won her simply because he is rich.
Themes
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Class, Wealth, and Power Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
Shinji walks home along the beach and comes across a group of sailors struggling to get their boat ashore. He hurries to join a group of women helping to push the boat onto land. As he gets closer, he sees that Hatsue is among the women pushing. The strong Shinji grabs a rope and pulls while the women push and soon the boat is safely ashore. Shinji turns and walks away without looking back at Hatsue.
Shinji is too sad about the rumors he’s heard concerning Hatsue’s engagement to even try to talk, connect, or flirt with her. He feels he’s missed his chance forever, and he doesn’t want to increase his own pain by engaging with her on any level.
Themes
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At home, Shinji reaches into his sweater to pull out his envelope—he always gives his pay directly to his mother for household expenses. He is shocked to find that the envelope is missing. Knowing he must have dropped it on the beach, Shinji wordlessly turns around and runs out of the house. A few minutes later, a young girl comes to the door and asks for Shinji. Shinji’s mother tells her that Shinji went out again. The girl—Hatsue—hands Shinji’s mother Shinji’s pay envelope with his name on it. Shinji’s mother urges Hatsue to run and find Shinji so that he can stop searching and worrying.
Once again, Shinji and Hatsue are brought together by chance circumstances. Shinji’s envelope falling out of his sweater could be seen as the forces of nature at work on human experiences—the wind or the sea knocked the envelope loose, perhaps to bring Shinji and Hatuse together and to teach Shinji a lesson about the values of patience and calm.
Themes
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On the dark beach, Hatsue finds Shinji bent over, combing through the sand. She approaches him and tells him that she found the envelope and brought it to his mother after asking for directions to his house from some other villagers. Shinji smiles, deeply relieved, but then he remembers the rumor he heard. He asks Hatuse if she and Yasuo are really going to be married. Hatsue begins laughing—she says the rumor is a lie. Hatuse continues laughing until she begins clutching at her chest, complaining that she’s laughed herself sore. Shinji tenderly touches the spot on her chest. Hatsue tells him he’s making her feel better. Beneath the moonlight, Shinji and Hatsue share a kiss. Shinji thinks that Hatsue’s mouth tastes like salt and seaweed.
This passage shows Hatsue and Shinji overcoming the tensions between them and connecting even more deeply than before. It also illustrates the power of gossip on the island, foreshadowing that the same malignant rumors will plague Shinji and Hatsue’s courtship, too. When Shinji kisses Hatsue and finds that she tastes like the sea, Mishima draws a direct connection between Hatsue and the forces of nature. By aligning Hatsue with the sea, he suggests that she, like nature, is pure and patient.
Themes
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Related Quotes
As the two break apart, Shinji tells Hatsue that he plans to bring some fish to the lighthouse-keeper’s place tomorrow when he is done fishing. Hatsue says she, too, will be at the lighthouse tomorrow. The two part ways wordlessly.
Hatsue and Shinji are devoted to one another and plan to continue seeing one another—even knowing how unforgiving the rumor mill on Uta-jima can be.
Themes
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Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon