The Sound of Waves

by

Yukio Mishima

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The Sound of Waves: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It is time for Shinji’s brother Hiroshi to embark on his school trip, during which he will tour the Kyoto-Osaka area with his classmates and spend five whole nights away from home—his first ever trip off of the island. This annual trip is the way most young people on Uta-jima come to learn about the outside world for the first time, spotting streetcars, skyscrapers, and cinemas at long last. Hiroshi’s mother buys talismans at the Yashiro Shrine and packs Hiroshi’s bag full of snacks and candies. She brings him to the docks to board the ferryboat that will take him to the mainland, where she joins the other mothers in tearfully waving goodbye to the departing schoolchildren. Hiroshi and Shinji’s mother returns home, where she sits alone on the floor and cries, dreading the day when both her sons leave her for good to “take to the sea.”
Mishima uses this passage to illustrate the intensely insular nature of life on Uta-jima. The villagers there have little contact with the mainland—their lives are mostly concerned with community, survival, and living alongside nature. This creates a sense of fortitude and communality—but as Shinji and Hiroshi’s mother’s loneliness at the end of the scene indicates, it also means that people have little else to turn to when individuals within their community leave or move on.
Themes
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
After the ferryboat docks on the mainland, its crew prepares for the return journey. Chiyoko, the daughter of the lighthouse-keeper and his wife, is getting ready to board the ferry and return to the island—she is a brooding, “unsociable” girl, and she is dreading having to reunite with the gossipy islanders. Chiyoko fears that she is plain and ugly—and that everyone is always saying so behind her back.
Chiyoko has been forged into a person on the island of Uta-jima—and even after her adventures on the mainland, she is unable to escape the gossip and unkind rumors that defined her life there.
Themes
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
On the ferry, Chiyoko runs into Yasuo, who is returning to the island from the mainland after attending to some business for his father and the Co-operative. He teases her for coming home to the island for “another drink of mother’s milk.” Chiyoko is angry at Yasuo for teasing her—she wishes, for once, that a man would look at her with love rather than contempt. Chiyoko wishes Shinji, not Yasuo, was with her on the journey. Meanwhile, Yasuo wishes he could brag to Chiyoko about sleeping with a prostitute the night before—but he knows that doing so would be uncouth.
Chiyoko is deeply insecure and clearly in love with Shinji, who, little does she know, is involved with someone else. As Mishima offers insights into what both Chiyoko and Yasuo are thinking, he contrasts Chiyoko’s self-loathing and yearning against Yasuo’s sleazy, braggadocious nature.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Power Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
On the journey back, Chiyoko asks Yasuo what news there is on the island. He tells her about Hatsue’s return—and her beauty. Yasuo boasts that he will likely be picked out of all the young village men to marry Hatsue and be adopted into her family. Chiyoko does not respond to the news—instead, she stands up from her seat, goes to the railing, and waits for Uta-jima to appear on the horizon.
Chiyoko is clearly upset by the news of Hatsue’s return, even though Yasuo claims it is he himself—not Shinji—who will win her heart. Chiyoko, having been raised in an environment so influenced by gossip and rumor, is unable to see Hatsue’s presence as anything but a threat to her own happiness.
Themes
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
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