Friday, October 17, 2008

An Aftermath of Hope and Regret

“Aftermath”, a short story written by Mary Yukari Waters available in the Laws of Evening, is one of the those rare short stories that can present a timeless theme of change and the consequences that come with it.  Just as the country of Japan is struggling with its own national identity after WWII, a mother, Makiko, and her son, Toshi, are struggling with their own identities and how to proceed with their lives.  While Makiko is determined to stay true to the ancient Japanese culture which her generation was raised in, Yoshi is beginning to embrace an American culture that Makiko believes not only destroyed her country but killed her husband, Yoshitsune.  The idea of choosing between two completely different cultures is a timeless theme and “Aftermath” could be interpreted today and even fifty years in the future.  However, Mary Yukari Waters is very careful with the tone her story, though Aftermath deals with the destruction of Japan there is hope that from the ruins something greater could grow.  Similar to the song Let It Be by the Beatles, both Let It Be and “Aftermath” have a similar tone of sadness and regret, but an even greater tone of hope.  In Let It Be, at first, Paul McCartney is sad that he is reminded of his mother’s tragic death, but at the end of the song, he is rejoicing that his mother has come back to him, “And when the night is cloudy/There is still a light that shines on me/Shine until tomorrow/Let it be/There will be an answer/Let it be.”  Compared to “Aftermath”, “Tonight there is a full moon.  Earlier, at dusk, it was opaque and insubstantial.  Now through shifting moisture in the air, it glows bright and strong, awash with light.”  However, perhaps Yukari Waters was making a statement by putting this story in the past Japan rather than many present third world countries that hope is fading for those who are now faced with this difficult choice of cultures.  CR

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