The Sound of Waves


Yukio Mishima

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Hornets Symbol Icon

In The Sound of Waves, hornets symbolize the ways in which those who fail to learn the lessons of nature will always suffer. When the brash, narcissistic, and jealous Yasuo begins to fear that he will lose Hatsue, whose hand he hoped to win, to the poor fisherman Shinji, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Yasuo confronts Hatsue one night as she gathers water at the well near her father’s house and attempts to rape her. As Yasuo tries to commit this rape, however, he finds that he cannot do it because he is being stung by many hornets on various vulnerable parts of his body. As the hornets appear to smite Yasuo, Mishima hammers home the fact that Yasuo has failed to respect nature. The hornets do not show up again later in the novel, yet their brief and brutal appearance underscores nature’s swift capacity for vengeance.

Hornets Quotes in The Sound of Waves

The The Sound of Waves quotes below all refer to the symbol of Hornets. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Sound of Waves published in 1994.
Chapter 9 Quotes

All the time the luminous watch of which Yasuo was so proud, strapped above the hand with which he was holding onto the branch of the beech tree, was giving off its phosphorescent glow, faintly but distinctly ticking away the seconds. This aroused a swarm of hornets in the nest fastened to this same branch and greatly excited their curiosity.

Related Characters: Yasuo Kawamoto, Hatsue Miyata
Related Symbols: Hornets
Page Number: 89-90
Explanation and Analysis:
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Hornets Symbol Timeline in The Sound of Waves

The timeline below shows where the symbol Hornets appears in The Sound of Waves. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
...her. Yasuo is unaware that just above him, in the tree’s branches, a swarm of hornets are growing excited by the ticking of the gaudy watch Yasuo always wears. A hornet... (full context)
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
...Yasuo’s face—but this only arouses him more. As he leans down to kiss Hatsue, another hornet stings him on the back of his neck. He stands up to try to catch... (full context)