The Sound of Waves


Yukio Mishima

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Themes and Colors
Lessons from Nature Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Devotion Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Class, Wealth, and Power Theme Icon
Gossip and Rumor Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Sound of Waves, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Lessons from Nature

Throughout Yukio Mishima’s The Sound of Waves, the powerful forces of nature define life on the island of Uta-jima. As Mishima tells the story of a young couple battered by gossip, jealousy, and class divisions, he draws parallels between the lessons they have to learn and the lessons nature has to teach. Mishima suggests that nature is all-powerful and beyond human control—and as such should be respected. Ultimately, Mishima argues that humans can show…

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Love, Sex, and Devotion

Yukio Mishima’s The Sound of Waves is, at its core, a love story. When Shinji and Hatsue find themselves magnetically drawn to each other, they quickly begin traversing the waters of love and sex for the first time. As Shinji and Hatsue talk, flirt, and test the boundaries of propriety, they nonetheless maintain their inner purity of heart, spirit, and intention—their attraction is just as spiritual as it is physical. As Mishima charts Shinji and…

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Coming of Age

Yukio Mishima’s The Sound of Waves focuses primarily on Shinji Kubo’s coming-of-age journey. Over the course of the novel, Shinji learns important lessons about love, honor, class, family, and the value of hard work. As Shinji grows from a boy into a man by learning to gracefully accept whatever comes to him, Mishima suggests that in order to fully come of age, one must become flexible and selfless.

Shinji is, by nature, a giving…

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Class, Wealth, and Power

As fisherman Shinji Kubo sets his sights on Hatsue, the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man on the island, he quickly finds himself caught up in a struggle centered around class, wealth, and power. Shinji, who gives every penny he makes to his mother so that she can support their family, must prove himself to Hatsue’s intimidating father, Terukichi Miyata, who owns two huge freighters. The difficult lives of Uta-jima’s working class—and particularly…

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Gossip and Rumor

Throughout The Sound of Waves, many of the major characters fall prey to gossip and rumor. The rumors that these characters overhear are intriguing and seductive—yet all too often, Mishima’s characters jump to conclusions about the tidbits they hear, hurting feelings, perpetuating lies, and causing damage to their relationships in the process. Ultimately, Mishima suggests that gossip can erode not just relationships but entire communities and rumors should not be taken at face value.

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