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Passage Commentary from the Sound of Waves

Essay by review  •  November 30, 2010  •  Essay  •  822 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,137 Views

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In this excerpt from The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima's use of descriptive diction and imagery depicts the tumultuous island during the storm and helps the reader visualize the milieu and events of the passage. The reader feels an understated, ironic excitement and anticipation that is established in this passage because of the author's diction. This simple but illustrative passage from The Sound of Waves altogether creates an enhanced experience and familiarity with the backdrop and atmosphere of the passage.

Explanatory diction in this passage helps describe the setting and situation of the passage, and transforms the dismal feeling of the excerpt into a sense of anticipation. Near the beginning of the passage, the author suggests that the state of the island was atypical the day prior, with an "unseasonably damp" wind and a "strange light" across the sky. The island had a "ground swell set in" and a "beach aroar with incoming waves", the word "aroar" used with "incoming waves", combined with the unusual wind and odd light present on the island, suggests that the island setting has changed from normal and calm conditions to stormy ones, and indicates that a storm is imminent. The reader may infer that the differences in the island settings imply an unusual day for Shinji, who normally works in the fair island weather as a fisherman. Because of this foreshadowing in the passage, one might predict that Shinji will not be working today because of the stormy weather that "was enough to tell him that the boats would not be put out today". While the storm occurs, the author's language describes its wrath and effect on Shinji's home, describing the house that is "shaking violently" with "rattling" windows. Mishima's direct word choice tells readers simply that the house was trembling, with clattering windows. He intends to portray the extent of the storm's wrath, so the reader can visualize its violence on the houses of Uta-Jima. Finally, the underlying feeling of the passage is partially created by Mishima's diction. Shinji finds it "unbearable" to "wait" for something about to happen. If something feels unbearable, because one is waiting for something, a logical conjecture is that the person feels eagerness and anxiety. Since his feelings are made clear by this phrase, the underlying mood of anxiety and anticipation is obvious. The mood of the passage emulates Shinji's own feelings, and experiencing his feelings helps the reader empathize with Shinji in his wait.

Figures of speech and the irony that fills this passage from The Sound of Waves bring interest and paradox into the passage, grabbing the attention of the reader. An ironically excited atmosphere is also created by literary devices in the passage. During the night of the storm, while the wind, "mixed with rain" blows, and "the heavens and the sea were filled with sounds like human shrieks and shrilling fifes". The author uses a simile to compare the sounds of the storm in "the heavens and the seas", created by wind and rain, with the sounds like "shrieks" and "fifes"

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