Cultural Clash: Old Generation vs New Generation; Cowboy or Samurai?


As our protagonist is remembering his passion for creating certain political paintings I notice that his interest in historic tradition remains obvious. As he describes a painting named ‘Complacency’ he says, “their clothes were the same rags the original boys wore, the scowls on their faces would not have been guilty, defensive scowls of little criminals caught in the act; rather, they would have worn the manly scowls of samurai warriors ready to fight”(168). This description of poor citizens he is uplifting in art involves them being represented as respected warriors of old. This in addition to conversations in the present has me certain of the fact that Masuji Ono finds admiration for the specific history of Japan important for all. This is why he elevates the status of these underprivileged boys they “held their sticks in classic kendo stances”(168). Tradition and history that is unique to Japanese culture is what he values. This makes perfect sense because as the Americans come in and start to make changes we as readers can detect a fear that what makes Japan great might be lost in the transition. Sometimes it seems like he believes it might already be lost just as the war has been. Another amazing example of this is when in the present he speaks with his nephew about pretending to be certain heroes. He goes on to say,”How did you learn to play cowboys…Its more interesting, more interesting by far, to pretend to be someone like Lord Yoshitsune”(30). He does not value the new generations having admiration for any culture but his own. Through his interactions with his grandson we are able to conclude that he is against another culture influencing the people of Japan. It is fairly obvious to discern his reasoning behind that but there are other characters that seem to think that not all the changes brought upon by the Americans is entirely bad. Suichi himself “thinks the American heroes are better models for children now”(36). All in all I just thought it was important to mention that because he is from an older generation he finds Japanese tradition more important to maintain than the generations after him.

When analyzing how people act after a tragedy I see that there are often negative reactions as well as positive ones. One event that Americans can personally feel a fair deal of pain for is 9/11. After that event many people began to have both negative and positive perceptions about certain people groups. I for one always think about fireman in the most positive light. My admiration for them is so strong that I probably feel more admiration for them than cops. Recent events I understand make it hard for Americans to idolize cops but it is several documentaries on firefighters that has me elevate their position in my psyche. Film and television wanted there to be a light of hope for people so they went and made the firefighters into figures we could celebrate. However on the other hand Muslims still have to overcome negative stigmas as a result of the attacks. Many people I know link Muslims with 9/11 as the first image that comes to mind. Even though they are aware of the fact that this was a fringe group they still think of that minority before they think of the majority. Therefore one of the consequences of post war memory and traumatic events is that new stereotypes both good and bad are cemented into the minds of an entire generation of people.

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