During class on Monday, I was thinking about the relationship that Ichiro has with his mother and father. I found it interesting how differently his interactions were with his mother and father, and he never really speaks with them both together. While I understand the exasperation and frustration that he might feel towards his mother and father (especially given the fact that he has been gone for so long), Ichiro seems to tolerate his father and vehemently hate his mother. Although there could be multiple reasons for why Ichiro has the relationships with his parents that he has, I was thinking if perhaps it had something to do with the fact that his father seems to exemplify feminine qualities while his mother exemplifies masculine qualities. When Ichiro’s father is described, he is likened to Buddha with his chubby figure and happy demeanor, and when he first comes home, his father “fondly, delicately, places a pudgy hand on Ichiro’s elbow” (8). His mother, however, is described as a “small, flat-chested woman who wore her hair pulled back… hers was the awkward, skinny body of a thirteen-year-old” (9). The interactions that Ichiro has with his father can be described as tender and sometimes heartfelt while his interactions with his mother are intense and aggressive. A part of the book that really stuck out to me was when Taro leaves and his parents both have different reactions. Ichiro’s father says “Mama” like a little boy while his mother simply and emotionlessly says “We don’t have enough nickles” (62). His father thus becomes vulnerable and looks to his mother for strength while his mother remains cold. Overall, I wonder if this masculine/feminine traits could be source of Ichiro’s exasperation or if it is something else.

Masculinity vs. Femininity

One thought on “Masculinity vs. Femininity

  • September 25, 2019 at 11:33 am

    I thought about this, too, especially in the first chapter. I thought it was an important moment when. at the end of Chapter 1, Ichiro’s father says something like “Yes, I know your mother is wrong. But it isn’t my place to tell her that.” Obviously this reverses “traditional” gender roles, but I wonder if it’s meant to be a commentary on their unique family dynamic instead of on gender roles.

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