Traveling Through "The Samurai's Garden"

Essay by niki113090High School, 10th gradeA, February 2007

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The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama is a story about Stephen's journey in Tarumi. During the time this tale takes place, many conflicts arise; often with parallels. As we fly through the various events in the novel, we see how the characters have a bumpy ride ahead of them.

The first stop is Stephen and Sachi. Sachi was a beautiful, gentle, and genial woman who was unfortunately sidelined with leprosy, a form of tuberculosis. Before she caught leprosy, "she was... one of the most beautiful girls in all of Tarumi, perhaps all of Japan" (Tsukiyama, 28)! Sachi found that her disease caused her much turbulence in all aspects of her life. Not only did she suffer from a granulomatous illness, but she also was confined to live in an inhospitable leper colony. She faced isolation from the public world, including her family, and found it difficult to fit in while in her secluded world.

Stephen faced a similar problem; he, too, had tuberculosis. While suffering from his disease, he was also forced to travel to Japan, a place where he clearly struggled to fit in. Being the only young and Chinese male in a foreign country, Stephen was able to sympathize with Sachi's situation. They both knew what it was like to soar through each day while facing an uncomfortable disease in an isolated world.

While Sachi may have faced conflicts of her own, we find that she becomes a primary parallel conflict for both Matsu and Kenzo. With her natural beauty, she was able to glide into the heart of Matsu, but at the same time, her "eaten away flesh ... and white scaly scabs" (27) caused her to repulse and embarrass Kenzo, the man she was betrothed to. Both men face antithesis situations that...