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Interrelation with the Other
in Wartime
World War II: “Prize Stock”
by Kenzaburo Ōe
and The Sun by AleksandrSokurov.
Historical Context: WW II
• Japan enters a military alliance (the Axis)
with Germany and Italy in 1940, dividing
the world domination between the three
countries: Germany in Europe, Italy in the
Mediterranean region, and Japan in East
Asia and the Pacific.
• The US imposes economic sanctions on
Japan to control its military aggression in
• Japan attacks the United States Pacific
fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1941.
• The United States declares war on Japan.
• Germany declares war on the US; the US
responds accordingly and enters the
World War, joining the Soviet Union and
Great Britain (the Allies) against the Axis.
American Reaction to Pearl Harbor
The US Wartime Posters
Historical Context: WW II
• 1944-45: American air forces
attack Japan intensively.
• Japan maintains its military
dominance in the region until
• In August 1945, the US drops
atomic bombs on the Japanese
cities of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki; over 120,000
civilians die.
• The Soviet Union declares war
on Japan and attacks the
Japanese army in Manchuria.
• In September 1945, Japan
surrenders to the Allies.
American forces occupy Japan.
The Sun (2005) by AleksanderSokurov
• At the end of WW II, the
Emperor of Japan Hirohito
is held prisoner in a bunker
underneath his own palace.
• Double isolation: physical
and mental.
• An unexpected bond forms
between Hirohito and his
victorious enemy, the US
General MacArthur.
• Contemplation on how the
encounter with the Other
changed Japan.
• Perspective: a Western view
60 years after the events.
• Born in a small village in rural
• Exposed to the consequences of
• Shaped by the storytelling practice
of his village.
• Educated at the Department of
French Literature (Tokyo
University) in the classical
European humanist tradition.
• Author of though-provoking
stories and novels.
• Received the Nobel Prize for
literature in 1994.
“Prize Stock” (1958) by Kenzaboro Ōe
• Influenced by Mark Twain’s Adventures of
Huckleberry Finn (children’s world and a boy’s
• Life-changing encounter with the Other.
• Loss of the village’s pastoral innocence due to
the war.
• Mythological level of the story.
• Symbolism of a closed culture penetrated by
the outside world.
Intercultural chasm
• Our perspective: “global
village” (Herbert Marshall
McLuhan) versusthe
narrator’s perspective: a
secluded village.
• Literary conventions
smashed: the story
progresses not as
• Shocking naturalism:
“cruelty” towards the
Food for Thought
1. What could be the purpose of the shock the
story gives its readers?
2. What cultural filters stand between us and
the events of the plot?
3. What Others are there in the story and how
does the boy react to them?
4. What is the meaning of the animal imagery?
5. What brings people together with the Other?
What brings people together?
Common physicality (body)
Bodily needs and functions
Basic emotions (fear, boredom, joy, etc.)