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Beauty Encompasses Sadness

Beauty Encompasses Sadness

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Published by Connie Paraiso

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Published by: Connie Paraiso on Aug 21, 2012
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One Great Love: An Analysis of Beauty and Sadnessby Yasanuri Kawabata
Beauty and Sadness 
by Yasanuri Kawabata describes the pureness andinnocence of one great love which was accentuated by the depiction of two contrastinglove
one which defines what an unconditional love is, the other characterizesobsession and possessiveness, as revealed by the love of Otoko for Oki and the loveof Keiko for Otoko respectively.
The story begins with Oki‟s desire to hear the tolling of the bells with Otoko, her 
young lover more than twenty years ago. His longing eventually happens but not theway he expected it to be, for both of them listens to the clanging of the bells with the
company of Otoko‟s protégée named Keiko, and two other geisha. Oki‟s yearning to
reminisce their past affair never occur; instead, he gets hooked up with Keiko, whodeliberately ensnare Oki to have an extra marital affair with her, at the same timeinvolves herself with Taichiro, (the son of Oki) as a revenge to what has happened toOtoko in t
he past. Keiko‟s manipulation over the lives of the people around her 
specifically with Otoko leads to the tragic death of Taichiro.This story is told in its simplicity, for the author believes that the beauty of life liesin its plainness. The title it
self, “Beauty and Sadness” is indicative yet elusive, for Kawabata has a different perspective on what „beauty‟ and „sadness‟ is, as cited by
Ueda (1976),
“A person living a “beautiful” and “sincere” life—
that is, a person living his or her life to the full
—is most likely to feel “pathos,” if only the pathos of an unfulfilled (because
unfulfillable) goal. The unattainability of his goal enables him to live with great intensity,but at the same time it makes him prone to frustrations and disasters on a superhuman
 
scale. An intense life necessarily involves many risks, and the beauty of maidenhood isinevitably short-
lived. Kawabata‟s favorite type of beauty was delicate, fragile, andperishable; when it perished, sadness ensued…In short anything truly beauti
ful is sad
and anything truly sad is beautiful…”
 
This unfulfilled goal is evident in the yearning of Oki and Otoko to be with oneanother yet circumstances prevent them from being reunited. Back then, Oki is alreadya married man with a son, while Otoko is barely sixteen. At present, Oki is still living withhis wife, Fumiko. On the other hand, Otoko now has a deeper relationship with Keiko.Yet despite these odds, their unconditional love for each other transcends time anddistance, although the two of them are miles apart and both of them live a different lifeapart from each other, they have this strong connection which can never be broken. Inmost part of the story, both of them are seen as recollecting what they shared in thepast. Even Oki admitted to himself that the love they have is really exceptional as the
lines go, “Yet he knew, that what she felt for him was a young girl‟s desperate love. Hehimself had gone on to other women. But he had never loved again with such pain.”
 Notice that Kawabata epitomizes pure love in the disposition of a young girl as
exemplified by Otoko at fifteen. As Ueda puts it, “Kawabata used the character of a
young woman to embody his concept of ideal love, a longing pure and without stain,impossible to consummate. Obviously, this was because he felt that a young woman,more than anyone else, was capable of this type of love. She could love a man, no
matter how far away he might be, no matter how unattainable he might be.” Even the
mother of Otoko describes the latter a
s, “she‟s the kind of girl who‟ll go on waitingwhether I want her to or not. And she‟s only sixteen.” This indeed, exemplifies Otoko‟s
 
unconditional love for Oki, for she does not even think whether the latter couldreciprocate the love she gives to Oki or not considering their situations.In contrast, Keiko as a young girl is portrayed as highly spirited and somewhatstubborn. Otoko has firsthand experiences of her obstinate behavior, often times Keikocrosses her boundaries and loses respect for Otoko. One event that exemplify this istheir conversation about Oki as the lines go,
“Stop talking like that!” Otoko‟s voice was stern. She drew her wrist out of Keiko‟s
grasp and edged away.
“Are you still attached to him?” Keiko‟s voice was also harsh.“Even though I said I‟d get revenge for you?”“It‟s not attachment.”
 
“ Is it …love?”“Perhaps.”
 
The height of her obstinacy is illustrated with her determination to avenge Otokofrom Oki, even though Otoko pleads her not to go own with her wicked scheme, shedoes not head it; instead, this appeal seems to fuel the desire of Keiko to punish Oki.She uses her beauty to lure both Oki and Taichiro, she even manipulated the latter tomarry her if only to spite Oki. But the worst comes to end with the death of Taichiro.
This part of the story is puzzling for the details about Taichiro‟s death is not
demonstrated, living the readers to speculation. As I put it, the death of Taichiro ispremeditated by Keiko. At th
e last part of the novel it is stated that, “Keiko opened her eyes. Tears were still sparkling in them as she looked up at Otoko,” implies that she is
done with her plan to avenge her from Oki at the expense of Taichiro.

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