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From Lost to Found: A Scholarly Outlook on the Hybrid Experience

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  • Pages: 8
  • Word count: 1764
  • Category: Ambition

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At this present time in the novel, Ono’s new identity revolves around valuing self-respect and he accepts it by coming to terms with his past self and taking responsibility for his actions. After the miai, he narrates, “… I find it hard to understand how any man who values self-respect would wish for long to avoid responsibility for his past deeds…there is certainly a satisfaction and dignity to be gained in coming to terms with the mistakes one has made in the course of one’s life” (Ishiguro 124-125). Ono starts to think differently about his past identity and realizes the errors and faults it led to. Therefore, he accepts his former identity and comes to terms with the truth of who he was and the mistakes he made. In doing so, he feels relieved, even though if it wasn’t for him being forced to confront his past, he probably would still have felt strongly that who he was and what he did was for the good of the people and the nation. He also accepts his new identity in which he’s come to terms with his past identity, by admiring those who tried to make a difference, but failed in doing so as he did. Ono narrates, “… a man who aspires to rise above the mediocre, to be something more than ordinary, surly deserves admiration, even if in the end he fails…” (Ishiguro 134). Instead of feeling the way his past self would have that his actions brought forth change for the better, but the mindset of the new generations has changed as the nation began to change and modernize, Ono feels that the fact that he tried with the best of intentions is still admirable even if his efforts were in vain and caused more unpleasant outcomes than beneficial.

Even though Ono comes to accept his new identity in the present time in the novel and admits his former identity along with the nation’s past were full of mistakes, he still finds it hard to move forward along with his nation and the new generation. He confronts Taro Saito, Noriko’s husband about changes in his company and states, “…don’t you worry at times we might be a little too hasty in following the Americans? I would be the first to agree many of the old ways must now be erased for ever, but don’t you think sometimes some good things are being thrown out with the bad? Indeed, sometimes Japan has come to look like a small child learning from a strange adult” (Ishiguro 185). Ono accepts that mistakes were made by his former self and their nation and that part of his life and the nation’s history should probably never have existed, but he still feels a kind of attachment to the past and his former identity; therefore, he states that “some good things are being thrown away with the bad.” By asking Taro about these changes and his opinion, Ono shows the little reluctance he still carries towards accepting change within himself, his identity and with the undeniable fact that the nation is moving forward. His reluctance isn’t just towards accepting change, Ono also shows hesitancy in crossing the Bridge of Hesitation into the pleasure district. After he left Mori san’s villa, where he was taught to admire and capture the pleasure district through art, he never crossed it again. It can be assumed that in the present where Ono has a new identity, he refuses to cross it because doing so would force him to face his past with Mori san and confront the fact that leaving the villa to create more meaningful art had consequences. Therefore, he would be forced to look back at his former self only to realize that making the decision to leave Mori san’s group and at the time accepting his newfound identity was the wrong choice to make and that he was better off staying there.

Regardless of his reluctance towards moving forward and toward looking back at his past self and decisions, even after admitting the faults within his past identity, Ono comes to terms with it and accepts that he is no longer the man he once was. His acceptance also shows that he acknowledges the fact that there was a time that past identity that caused more suffering than improvement for the people of their nation existed. Therefore, his family members worry that he feels responsible to make up for his past identity and actions the way Yukio Naguchi, the music composer did, which was by killing himself. Ono sees his past self as negatively influential and states, “…I am not too proud to see that I too was a man of come influence, who used that influence towards a disastrous end” (Ishiguro 192). Though he may be a bit reluctant, his perception of his past self changes from how he viewed his past identity and actions in the early stage of the novel. During his conversation with his older daughter, Setsuko towards the end of the novel, she states, “… No one has ever considered Father’s past as something to view with recrimination. One hopes then that Father will cease to think of himself in terms of men like that unfortunate composer” (Ishiguro 193). His family members, such as Setsuko don’t understand why he sees his past self this way because they never thought of his career as an artist and his work as being anything other than simply art rather than works that would encourage conflict or challenge elite officials, politicians or Western foreigners. They’re awareness of the fact that Ono sees similarities between his past self and Mr. Naguchi, makes them believe he will follow in the composer’s footsteps; therefore, Setsuko tries to convince him that he didn’t have a destructive past and career; thus, that he didn’t have an undesirable and negatively influential past identity.

Along with his new identity revolving around self-respect by accepting his past identity and actions as they are seen by others outside of his family, which is that they were full of unfortunate mistakes, Ono sees his new self as ordinary and when he goes to meet Matsuda one last time before Matsuda’s death, he confronts that part of his new identity and accepts it. Ono narrates, “We at least acted on what we believed and did our utmost. It’s just that in the end we turned out to be ordinary men. Ordinary men with no special gifts of insight. It was simply out misfortune to have been ordinary men during such times” (Ishiguro 200). Ono realizes that his past self never really reached his ambition to make a difference for the better, instead, in his eyes, his ambition, actions and past identity had the opposite effect. Therefore, he confronts his newfound identity as an ordinary old man and accepts that even his past identity wasn’t an extraordinary one. At this moment, Ono also comes to terms with who he is now and who he was because if he was always ordinary, even if at the time he didn’t think so and he is a normal, average old man in the present, then Ono’s past identity and new identity are the same. Even though Ono felt differently about himself at the time and through much of the present time in the novel, it isn’t until this moment that Ono realizes that he’s always had only one identity, which he believes is a regular, mediocre man who had no special, positive or exceptional quality to bring forth change for the betterment of his people and his nation. When asked in an interview, “What sort of mood did you wish to portray in the narrator, Ono, by the end of the book?” a part of Ishiguro’s answer was that “…Ono is continually being cornered. He keeps having to admit this and admit that, and in the end he even accepts his own smallness in the world. I suppose I wanted to suggest that a person’s dignity isn’t necessarily dependent on what he achieves in his life or in his career; that there is something dignified about Ono in the end that arises simply out of his being human” (Mason and Ishiguro 343-344). In other words, Ishiguro states that after a certain point in the novel when Ono starts to see his past differently, he is forced to constantly confront his past identity and admit his mistakes to himself and to others and at the same time he tries to justify his intentions regardless of the end result. Through his confrontations with people from his past and his past self, he becomes aware of his real position in the world, his true identity, the identity he always had, but wasn’t aware of. Ishiguro wanted Ono to fully accept his identity to show that Ono holds on to his self-respect regardless of his past, which he no longer lets define him. Therefore, by the end of the novel, Ono becomes a more honorable man through the eyes of the reader than he was before or than he was in the past, just by accepting who he really is and always was, which is that he is human, and he accepts that humans make mistakes and are always in search of the best part of themselves to define their identity.

At the end of the novel, Ono comes to terms with his identity as a whole and finally completely admits and accepts that his nation is moving forward along with the new generations. He states, “I feel a certain nostalgia for the past and the district as it used to be. But to see how our city has been rebuilt, how things have recovered so rapidly over these years, fills me with genuine gladness. Our nation, it seems, whatever mistakes it may have made in the past, has now another chance to make a better go of things. One can only wish these young people well” (Ishiguro 206). Ono does have a longing for the nation to be as it once was, but as he had already accepted his new identity and came to terms with the reality of his past identity, in this instance he accepts that change is for the better of the people and the nation and that it can lead to a brighter future. Therefore, he leaves it to the new generation to attempt the very thing he tried to do in the past, which is to lead their nation to greatness and towards that future.

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