Reflection Statement
on Fallen Blossom, Broken Mirror
by Serena Wong

The principal purpose of my story is to explore an obscure event regarding Japanese-American relations that happened in 1927, whereby friendship dolls [1] were sent from America to Japan and vice versa, as a gesture of friendship and peace. The program was a success, and the children embraced the dolls and each other wholeheartedly. However, tensions rose soon after and in 1941, Japan officially entered World War II, changing the relationship between these two countries forever. Ultimately, it was the same children who accepted the friendship dolls and their counterparts, who would fight against each other during the war.

The irony of this situation prompted me to consider a puzzling aspect of human nature - the contradictory desires inherent in humans, specifically the conflicting yearning for both peace and control, which in due course results in war or similar hostilities. Because of the emotional nature of the subject matter, I decided to present it in the medium of the short story, which I believe possesses the level of sentiment required. In addition, the short story medium is relatively flexible, allowing the composer to manipulate various stylistic techniques in order to attain a certain reaction and fully exploit their voice, plot and characters.

At the start of the course, I believed that the concept could be presented through the experiences of the characters as they encounter an offering of peace (the friendship dolls) and eventually the misfortune of war; thus, a rather basic notion of the rejection of peace, in favour of the possibility of supremacy was considered. The discovery of Psychology by A. Bernstein, Edward J. Roy, Thomas K. Srull and Christopher D. Wickens, however, altered my perception of how to portray the initial concept. The book details one of Sigmund Freud’s theories about the ego, the super ego and the id, which offers an explanation of the contradictory desires of humans. This is highlighted by Daiki’s struggle to adhere to the Bushido code [2]; his superego and ethical beliefs renders him unable to fulfil the code and fight as the other Japanese soldiers do, which coincides with the primal desire of the id to dominate, and to control.

Freud’s theory [3] allowed me to realise that the contradictory nature of man could be demonstrated more specifically through the internal conflict of the characters, rather than through the power struggle of the countries involved. Thus, I concluded that it could be more thoroughly explored if it were centered upon how the two characters deal with their conflicting wishes. For instance, Shingi Akako juggles her intrinsic love for dolls, which is representative of her more humane desire for peace, against her obligation to burn the dolls, as required by her participation in the extreme rightist organization [4], and her supposed duty to the Emperor.

In terms of subject matter, the anthropological study, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword by Ruth Benedict, written during 1945, acted as a primary source for information relating to Japanese customs, society and codes of behaviour. The book provided an understanding of important features of Japanese custom such as the use honorifics, the importance of bowing and other valued qualities in Japan, like ko, which is filial piety. I continually referred to this book throughout the course of my major work and it has contributed enormously to the formation of my short story. For instance, the importance of ko is highlighted repeatedly in the short story [5] and the Emperor as God is stressed through Akako, and Daiki’s own observations of how the Emperor is revered in Japan.

Writing Fiction: A Beginner’s Guide [6] significantly influenced the way in which my major work was constructed. Headings, such as “Point of View and Narrative Voice” and “Types of Short Stories”, allowed me to consider the technicalities of the short story form and enhance and refine my major work. Originally, I had little knowledge of “voice”. However, after completing various writing exercises in the guide and other books [7], I was able to comprehend the idea and effect of having “voices” in my major work, which is an importance factor in the short story as I was required to write in three different voices – the two characters and my own natural voice as a narrator. After much drafting, the three voices became much clearer and easier to differentiate, which is vital as the short story changes from one character’s voice to another’s quite often, and the audience needed to be able to distinguish between them. The narrator’s voice, in particular, is made distinguishable through the use of the personal pronoun, which contrasts against the third person perspective of the other two characters. In addition, the italicised portions of the short story indicate the narrator’s perspective.

In order to find the most suitable techniques for my major work, I read a variety of novels [8] and short stories [9]. These texts have allowed me to consider possibilities that could be incorporated in my own short story. Lolita inspired me to consider an internal monologue in my short story. Although I did not greatly integrate it in the story, I did experiment with the technique in other practice short stories. Other ways in which I experimented with writing was to compose several accounts as the characters I created in various kinds of voices before beginning the major work, as well as generally writing short stories. I tried to become better acquainted with my characters and imagined that I was actually meeting them in person, which helped me to effectively delve into the characters’ psyche during the writing of the short story. In addition, it provided me with the idea of including myself, as the narrator, in the major work and conversing with the characters [10]. This technique allows the audience to understand thoroughly the characters’ behaviour, as well as helping the characters themselves to realise aspects of their own personality or values, or traits of the other characters, that they had not previously acknowledged. For instance, the very first time the narrator speaks to Daiki [11], he is having trouble grasping the concept of a certain Japanese myth. With some prompting by the narrator, Daiki recognises the fact that he simply does not believe in the legends and the audience realises that he is different from other Japanese children.

The symbol of the friendship dolls is emphasised frequently in the major work, as they illustrate the deteriorating relationship not only between Japan and America, but also between Daiki and Akako. At first, they are loved as an innocent gift of friendship and then destroyed as “an act of pretense by the enemy” [12]. This adds to the idea of the indoctrination of the Japanese people to believe the Emperor was the “Son of God” as Akako is willing to sacrifice all for the emperor.

Initially I wrote for an audience of young adults and adults who enjoy reading literature. My short story was originally written with the intention of provoking and challenging the reader. After asking some of my peers to read my major work and gaining feedback from them, it reaffirmed my intended audience. However, I believe that the thematic concept of human nature and psychology would interest students of psychology, in particular those studying the notion of violence as opposed to peace in society, as well as students of modern Japanese history. Research and investigation of Japanese culture and society [13] and World War II [14] has allowed me to depict a period of history in an historically accurate and believable manner. This has assisted me in realising my original intention of creating an expressive and stimulating short story, as well as allowing the aforementioned audience of students to understand and appreciate the major work as an interesting representation of history. Hence, students of Japanese culture or history would be able to appreciate and recognise this aspect of the major work more readily.

The study of Module C: Representation and Text: Powerplay permitted me to better understand the intricate ways in which people strive for power and hence, enabled me to demonstrate various endeavours for power in the short story. The characters within the Major Work constantly engage in powerplay, which is especially palpable in the character of Emperor Hirohito [15], who successfully manipulates the Japanese people into believing that he is their God. The main characters of the short story also use their influence over each other to gain control, or to persuade one another. For example, Daiki, understands that Akako, possesses power over him, which she uses to try to alter his own beliefs [16], in regards to the Emperor.

Research and investigation has played a profound part in the development of my major work, allowing it to evolve into a realistic and substantial piece of work. The English Extension Two course and the writing of the major work proved very satisfying for me, allowing me to develop my skills in research and investigation, in addition to cultivating my writing style and aiding me in finding my own voice.

Short Story - Fallen Blossom, Broken Mirror


Notes

[1] Friendship Dolls (http://wgordon.web.wesleyan.edu/dolls/) and Friendship Dolls by Sidney L. Gulick

[2] Page 32

[3] Sigmund Freud, Personality Theories ( http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/freud.html)

[4] Page 17

[5] Page 12, 21 and 24.

[6] http://teenwriting.about.com/library/weekly/aa111102a.htm

[7] The Writing Book by Kate Grenville

[8] Tokyo Station by Martin Cruz Smith, Lolita by Vladimir Nabakov, Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

[9] The Collected Short Stories of Roald Dahl by Roald Dahl, Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

[10] Page 5-6, 15, 17, 18-20, 25-27, 28, 29 and 31-32

[11] Page 5

[12] Akako, Page 27

[13] Japan: Its History and Its Culture by W. Scott Morton, Modern Japan by Peter Duus and The Undefeated: The Rise, Fall and Rise of Greater Japan by Robert Harvey.

[14] Japan’s War by David Batty and Japan at War: An Oral History by Haruko Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook.

[15] Time 100: Emperor Hirohito ( http://www.time.com/time/asia/asia/magazine/1999/990823/hirohito1.html)

[16] Page 12


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