Remembering the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There are certain things we’d just like to forget. Things we’d like to throw out of our minds and never look back on again. However good of an idea this might seem, sometimes it’s actually best to remember our tragedies, our mistakes. Sometimes we need to erect statues and build monuments to remember what we’re standing for and fighting against, sometimes we need to write down the atrocities we’ve committed so that even when we feel shame, we can look at these things and remember why we should never repeat those actions again. We paint both painful memories and joyful ones on canvases of all different sorts: streets, walls, bridges, etc. We film movies that give such realistic depictions of our memories that even those who didn’t experience them feel our pain and our happiness, our shame and our humiliation. An example of a film created to remember is the movie Apocalypse Now which is a film on the Vietnam war. Watching this film, I and the other students I was with at the time were completely blown away by the horrors being shown on the screen. What we really couldn’t get out of our heads: that was nothing. The real things was so much worse. Why would someone create such a horrific movie? Why would students in classes be made to watch it every year? Because it’s important that as a country, we remember the things that we did in Vietnam. It’s important that the next generations in our nation know what happened because we never want those events to be repeated in our history. Film is one way that we remember.


Masuji Ono seems to have many memories he would like to forget. At least, memories he does not want to share. We know certain details about his past. We know that he was extremely well respected, he was a great painter, he had a wife and a son, he won his house in a battle of honor, and he frequented a little bar with his friends. All of this seems as though his life had been going very well, and then the war happened. For a majority of the book we are not told what happened during the war, but we do know that much of Masuji Ono’s life has changed. He is no longer painting, his art is locked away. His wife and son have died. The bar is falling apart. His beautiful house once filled with so much joy was torn apart. Masuji Ono is also not as highly respected as before the war. Why? The audience doesn’t know yet but, though he doesn’t believe it, his daughters seem to believe it may even be one of the reason’s that his youngest daughter’s marriage fell through. The audience along with Masuji Ono become suspicious of this during conversations with his daughters where they throw in small remarks such as “Well father, if it wasn’t to do with me, then I wonder what it could have been to make them pull out like that.” (52) Masuji Ono doesn’t like to remember the negative things about the past. More than that, he doesn’t like to remember his own negative moments. More and more as the book goes on and Masui Ono delves into his past, he begins to remember things in pieces. Things he claims to have not paid attention to or not been able to remember, a “particular exchange has come back to me which I gave little significance to before” (54) says Ono. He remembers in bits and pieces, little snapshots of the past that one by one are creating a clearer painting of Masuji Ono and the war.



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