In this passage, found on pages 135 and 136 of The Sound of Waves, author Yukio Mishima utilizes brutal imagery through descriptive diction to expose the subtle sexism apparent on this island. Furthermore, he provides commentary on gender roles and stereotypes, which are apparent not only in his own life, but on the island of Uta-jima as well. Gender roles become apparent as the novel progresses because Shinji is looking for a woman of beauty rather than of intellect or equality.
However in this specific passage, Mishima reveals another evident theme pointing towards the superiority of men. For example, the places that the men and women work are a correlation of their place within the society. The men who work in ships, on top of the water are often seen as the masters and controllers of the families, whereas the women who had to dive to “the sea’s bottom, with its carpet of sharp-edged shells,” are seen as inferior to their husbands (Mishima 136).
Therefore, the passage serves as a way for Mishima provide commentary on his ideology of gender roles. The word choice in this passage is particularly striking. Mishima uses phrases such as “strangling feeling”, “inexpressible agony”, and “fear of collapsing that invaded the entire body”, all within the first sentence of this extract.
These words, which typically have a connotation associated with violence, are strategically added to the passage to create a gloomy mood for the first time that the women on the island are described in great detail. In conclusion, Mishima’s most significant purpose for this passage is to distinguish between the roles of men and women on the island of Uta-Jima. By setting the women apart from the men, he strategically identifies his stance on the gender hierarchy, both in his world and the society on the island of Uta-Jima.