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The Journal of Japanese Language Literature Studies > Volume 13(1); 2021 > Article
Border Crossings: The Journal of Japanese-Language Literature Studies 2021;13(1): 123-137.
doi: https://doi.org/10.22628/bcjjl.2021.13.1.123
Men from Manchuria and Women in Japan after the Asia-Pacific War:The Meaning of “Meaninglessness” in Abe Kobo’s Two “The Wall” Novels
Tatsuya KAGEKI
Research Associate, Keio University
安部公房の描いた満洲引揚男性と内地日本女性の戦後 ―― 二つの「壁」における「無意味さ」の意味
Correspondence  Tatsuya KAGEKI ,Email: tatsuya.kageki@gmail.com
Published online: 30 December 2021.
Copyright ©2021 The Global Institute for Japanese Studies, Korea University
This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
It is widely known that in his two novels, “At the Guidepost at the End of the Road” (1948) and “The Wall – The Crime of S. Karma” (1951), Abe Kobo depicted the main characters’ anguish after the Japanese defeat in the Asia-Pacific war as the result of “meaninglessness”. He came to this perspective on the basis of struggling with this feeling in his own life. This article analyzes the female Japanese characters, who form a contrast with the main male Japanese characters, in order to explore the question of why this sense of meaninglessness came about. In these novels, Japanese female characters are represented as those who cure the distress men feel because of the latter’s awareness of their responsibility for the aggressive war that took place, and because of their hedonic enjoyment of the liberated society after the war, which these male characters experience as “meaningful” as it allows them to not reflect on the war. The contrasting women characters reflect the social conditions at the time the story was written. Japanese women were not accused of war crimes, nor were they responsible for the subordinate female gender roles which persisted before the war. As a result, the female characters are free of the sense of meaninglessness, and they form a contrast with Japanese male characters who feel anguish at their awareness of their responsibility for the war, and their resultant sense of meaninglessness.
Keywords: Abe Kobo, At the Guidepost at the End of the Road, Clay wall, The Wall – The Crime of S. Karma, Chaotic times after World War II

キ―ワ―ド: 安部公房, 終りし道の標べに, 粘土塀, 壁――S·カルマ氏の犯罪, 戦後混乱期
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