Numb - An analysis on the effects of war on the Japanese spirit

Essay by crossmilesUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, November 2014

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Japan's 1931 invasion of Manchuria sparked the beginning of a war that would ultimately touch the entire world. The war in Asia and the Pacific took away the lives of many and caused great amounts of destruction as the Japanese empire slowly engulfed the entire Eastern and South Eastern regions. However, the devastation of the war were not only felt by those in the colonized lands, but also especially by those in the home front. The effects of the war have left the Japanese people numb and have shut off their empathy and, thus, their humanity. This unfortunate consequence is evident in numerous relationships between the Japanese people, ranging from those with the "enemy," the former soldiers, and other fellow civilians.

The "Enemy"

The aftermath of the war had numbed the Japanese people. In the short story, Blind Chinese Soldiers, author Hirabayashi Taiko makes use of the treatment of colonized captives to highlight the beginning of Japan's decrease in empathy.

The blind Chinese soldiers, presumably prisoners of war, were treated callously; almost like cattle rather than people, which also stresses the military's deadened sense of morality. To them, the prisoners were a means to a poison gas experiment, but rather than feeling for the lives of the prisoners, they were more concerned with contamination of the motherland. To the Japanese civilians on the train platform, the prisoners of war were like animals at the zoo meant to be gawked at - shocking and unexpected at first, curious at second glace, and then easy to forget about after the next minute. According to the narrator, "the Japanese were too involved in their own affairs to be moved by such an incident." (44) While hostility against the enemy is expected on the battlefield, the treatment of the prisoners on...