Sunday, December 25, 2016
Enod's major themes brought together in one story
The Shusaku Endo story Going Home is a summary of the major Endo themes (outlined in yesterday's post) and brought together in a deftly interwoven narrative: Middle-aged man arranging for the burial of his brother in Catholic cemetery in Japan (this seems to follow from his earlier story, Adieu, about the illness of his older brother) learns that they will have to remove his mother's bones from plot, incinerate the remains, and rebury - pretty disturbing, especially in that he will be the one to pick up the bones (apparently they don't or did not use caskets for burial?). Returning from the cemetery, he hears of a dog chained and abused by its own, and he is urged to participate in a kidnapping scheme: grab the dog at night and bring it home and treat it w/ kindness. They bring about this heist, and then the story unfurls another strand, as the man travels to another part of Japan to do research for a book he is writing: He learns about a 16th-century Japanese man who became a Catholic priest and missionary in the Philippines, but who years to come home to Japan in his last years. He does so, is hunted down, takes to the woods, where he dies of exposure, but his wish for return to his native land fulfilled. The story then recedes like a wave - as we learn about the fate of the dog, escaped from the man's house and returned many miles to his original, abusive owner. And then the cremation of the mother's bones and the burial of the brother take place. So we see the key Endo themes (Catholic faith, love of animals, reverence for family) brought together into one macro theme: faith and persistence even against persecution, abuse, and even torture.