Tsushima Yuko and the Modern Woman
Jevitt, Susan N.
MetadataShow full item record
Tsushima Yuko was born in 1947, daughter of the celebrated author, Dazai Osamu, and his wife, Michiko. One year after Tsushima's birth, Dazai committed a double suicide with another woman, leaving his wife, Michiko, to raise their three children alone. Thus, Yuko grew up without a father, and her mother's role as a solo mother left a deep impression on Tsushima. Her retarded elder brother and constant companion died when he was fifteen leaving Tsushima little contact with men in the household. Later in her life, after a bad marriage, she faces the same circumstances as her mother once had, discovering the difficulties of raising her two children single-handedly. The tragic death of her young son once again leaves her bereft and forces Tsushima to reexamine her life. Thus many of the protagonists of Tsushima's works are young, single mothers, attempting to deal with any sort of problem from the irritations of everyday life to the pain of losing a child. Clearly, since many of the characteristics and circumstances affecting Tsushima's life are investigated in her works, a sense of self-exploration becomes the main element in her writing. In the tradition of the Japanese I-novelist, Tsushima uses her own life as a source for her writing, subjectively exploring the problems of the female identity in the modern world. She does this through her ability to relate specific day-to-day details of her characters' lives, often based on the minute details of her own life. Yet she gradually exposes the nature of these women's alienation and loneliness. Although each character is specific, the reader, by understanding not only the dreams of the young women but the reality of their lives as well, develops a sense of the universality of these women's situations. In this way, Tsushima brings to the reader a greater understanding of the thoughts and experiences of the modern woman who does not fully yield to the traditional view of Japanese women.