The Sound of Waves

by

Yukio Mishima

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The Sound of Waves: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After fishing the next day, Shinji stops at the Yashiro Shrine on his way to the lighthouse to give thanks to the sea-god for blessing him. After praying at the shrine, Shinji looks out on the ocean. He feels a deep connection to the “opulence of nature” all around him as he breathes deeply and listens to the waves. He slowly makes his way toward the lighthouse, excited yet nervous about meeting Hatsue there.
This passage demonstrates Shinji’s deeply selfless, spiritual nature. He has a clear reverence for the forces of nature and other powers, seen and unseen, that govern the world.
Themes
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The lighthouse-keeper and his wife have taken Hatsue into their hearts as if she were their own child. They do have a daughter of their own, Chiyoko, who attends university in Tokyo and visits the island only rarely. In her absence, the lighthouse-keeper and his wife have opened their home to local girls for etiquette lessons. The well-read, chatty wife and the stern lighthouse-keeper often argue—but they respect one another deeply and remain devoted to each other.
By providing some background on the lighthouse-keeper and his wife, Mishima illustrates how another couple on the island remain devoted to one another in spite of differences between them. This portends that there is plenty of hope for Hatsue and Shinji, even though many things seem to stand in the way of their being together.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
Hatsue arrives at the lighthouse with a gift of sea cucumbers, even though no etiquette lesson is scheduled for the day. She visits with the lighthouse-keeper’s wife, who, much to Hatsue’s embarrassment, asks Hatsue about her romantic life. To change the subject, Hatsue volunteers to help make supper. While Hatsue helps prepare the meal, Shinji knocks at the door with two fish for the lighthouse-keeper and his wife. As Shinji enters, the lighthouse-keeper’s wife tells Shinji that Chiyoko has written a letter asking about him—the lighthouse-keeper’s wife suggests Chiyoko has feelings for Shinji. Shinji, embarrassed, leaves the house quickly. Hatsue becomes quiet.
In this passage, the meddling and gossipy lighthouse-keeper’s wife manages to alienate Shinji and Hatsue from one another at the moment both of them had been anticipating all day—their meeting at the lighthouse. This passage reinforces just how painful and destructive gossip and rumor can be when one takes them as true at face value. 
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
Shinji decides to wait for Hatsue along the path down to the village from the lighthouse. He stares into the sea as he considers scaring her when she walks past. When he hears her footsteps approach, however, he decides to announce himself by whistling. Hatuse walks right past him. Shinji calls out for her, but she doesn’t turn around. Hatsue walks into a small forest, using a flashlight to light her way. Shinji follows her. Hatsue trips and falls, and Shinji helps her up. Shinji asks if Hatsue was upset with him before. She says that the rumors about him and Chiyoko upset her, but Shinji insists that he has no feelings for Chiyoko. Hatsue is relieved.
In this passage, Mishima shows how devoted Shinji is to Hatsue. He has no interest in any other girls, and he is desperate to let Hatsue know just how much she means to him. Just as Shinji was comforted by Hatsue’s ridicule of the rumors about Yasuo, so too is Hatsue now comforted by Shinji’s insistence that there is no truth to any rumors about him and Chiyoko.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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As Shinji walks Hatsue back to the village, he tells her about his dreams of working hard, saving money, and buying a lumber freighter that he and Hiroshi can use to get into the shipping business and take care of their mother financially. No matter how successful he gets in life, he says, he hopes to come back to Uta-jima at the end of his life to help preserve its beauty and its community. Hatsue listens intently to Shinji’s dreams for the future. They do not hold hands or touch as they walk—it seems to both of them that what happened yesterday between them on the beach was some “undreamed of event, brought about by some force outside themselves.” As they approach the village, they take different paths home.
Even though Shinji and Hatsue are deeply—and even cosmically—connected, Mishima illustrates how different their paths are by showing them walking home through the village different ways. No matter how much they care for each other, Shinji and Hatsue will at some point have to reckon with the differences in class, wealth, and status that divide them.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Power Theme Icon
Related Quotes