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Truth is to be considered as relative to an individual's understanding and perception towards the reality. Respect must be given to each individual's sense of understanding and what they believe is the truth. When talking about the truth, one person may see it as black, others may see it as white, these variations are dependent on how the person thinks, his culture, and his perspectives. The outsiders, the observing people are left with the question that which one is the truer perspective. Eventually, the observing people realize that the search for the truth is confusing, and even continuous searching is done, it will never be found. Ryunosuke Akutagawa's "In a Bamboo Grove" is a very important literature that depicts these kinds of perspectives. It is the perfect example of how gender, culture, and history may shape one's point of views in understanding and formulating the "truth". In this essay, the implications of the story towards the relationship of a man and a woman in that Japanese time and culture will be discussed.
Akutagawa's "In a Bamboo Grove" is a story about the points of view of seven people towards a crime. These people were interviewed and asked to give their sides of the story. Each person has his own side of the story which is perceived to be coming from their different classes, history, and culture. Personal views, as one may think, are building blocks of how each person understands and perceives the "truth". This created "truth" can be used as a means of protecting one's ego or preventing the possibility of being wrong and facing judgment. These "truths" can be used to judge a person's stance on the problem; it can be used as a basis of knowing where this person is coming from - culturally, socially, and mentally.
An important implication of the story is how a man relates and treats a woman.. It is seen as the same issue as the description of the ideal samurai and the actual samurai in the story. The samurai thinks ill of his wife after she was raped. He did not care anymore even if his wife will be abducted by the criminal. Up to the point of making up a story that the woman strongly suggested that her husband be killed instead. Furthermore, a picture that the woman is a thing that when a man wants her, he can have her; it is really a very discriminating point of view. The same difficulty is seen in the description of the woman. In one description, she is a "Bodhisattva" but on the second description, she is a sword-wielding woman. This is definitely a disgrace to the woman being described as such. Furthermore, when the criminal raped the woman, he did not respect the woman. It shows that in their culture, even pure women are not erased from the fact that men thinks highly of themselves. They do not care about the feelings of the woman. They do what they want to the women even if it violates their bodies or souls. It poses a very important relation that the woman needed protection from her husband, but the husband was not able to provide that. The important point here is that a woman is dependent in a man. In all of the scenes that the woman was involved, it always projects a certain kind of impurity and inequality towards the rights of men and women. These are the literal implications of the story. However, to fully understand the implications and assertions of the story, one needs to read it against the grains. According to Kamir, It is a story of men's weakness, selfishness, and greediness, and the women's courageous resistance and willingness to survive against all odds (160). In the story, men were self-gratifying and do not think of the woman's needs. The women are treated as "property, objectifying and commodifying her" (161). It is shown that the man sees the woman's worth only when looking at other men's eyes (161). For example, the criminal wants the woman for himself because he sees the woman's fear for her husband. On the other hand, the husband sees the beauty of his wife only when the woman wants to run away with the criminal.
Another point explicitly discussed by Kamir is the portrayal of woman is the society as oppressed beings, isolated and powerless. Although she is violated and dehumanized, she continues to pull herself together and move on (161). In this part, the wife chose to comfort her husband even after she was violated, but the husband turned away from her. In the end, "the man's greed, self-assuredness, weakness, and irresponsibility lead to his temptation and fall" (Kamir, 163). He left his wife to be victimized by another self-serving man. Furthermore, he blames his wife for his fall and her fall. Also, not accepting the compassion and forgiveness offered by his wife, he stubbornly destroyed the hope for intimacy and passion (Kamir, 163).
The story has a very interesting plot and it is executed very well in the story to provoke critical thinking for the readers. The story is able to depict the difficulties and problems in the Japanese era at that time. Thus, the picture of the relationship of a man and a woman, its unequal essence was projected.