East Asian literature Essay
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Based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s “The Standing Woman”, the power of the collective over that of the individual is positive. This can be surmised based on three points of argumentation which are the main character’s thoughts at the beginning of the story, the old man’s revelation in his conversation with the main character, and the main character’s discussion with his wife. At the beginning of the story, we find the main character who is a writer thinking about the story that he finished.
He mentions that the story is “capable of neither harm nor good”. Since he had spoken this to himself then it must be true.
Later on it would be revealed in the story that his wife who he loves so much has been turned to a manpillar by the government. Yet instead of being angry and seeking vengeance, the man even at the start of the story already seems defeated by the very society that persecuted his wife.
At the middle of the story, the writer converses with an old man who reveals that he had also been a writer but is now too afraid of persecution to write anything at all. The conversation shows that society has also broken the old man without even needing to arrest him and turn him into a mantree.
The old man’s fear of getting exposed to the public and being ridiculed had already overpowered him and these fears came from society because it is the collective society that has the greatest power to ridicule. The last proof comes from the writer’s discussion with his wife. His wife who had once been so proud and strong has been reduced to a yielding subject to society’s whims to a point of not even protesting injustices done to her by drunks. In conclusion, the power of a collective society truly does overwhelm the resolve of any particular member.