Thursday, May 16, 2019

Review of "The Big Wave," by Pearl S. Buck

Review of

The Big Wave, by Pearl S. Buck ISBN 0440840554

Five out of five stars

 This short story about life on the seacoast of Japan features the heritage of a people that choose to simply accept the reality of the natural disasters along the Japanese ocean shore. Kino is a farm boy that lives on the side of a mountain with a view of the ocean far below. His best friend Jiya is the son of a fisherman and their house is on the edge of the sea. There is also mention of the centuries old stone terraces that allow the side of the mountain to be farmed.

 Both professions are necessary so that they can eat their staple meal, which is fish with rice. Life is generally good, but Kino is puzzled when he sees that none of the houses on the shore have windows that face the ocean. When he inquires, Kino learns it is because of the recurring history of the sea becoming angry with great waves coming in, wiping out the village.

 The nearby volcano erupts, and a tsunami comes in, wiping out the village, leaving only a few stone posts. All of the people that did not seek shelter die, including all the other people in Jiya’s family. Over time, the village is built once again, despite the knowledge that there could be another giant wave.

 This story is about tradition and how the Japanese live their lives joyously, knowing that the sea could become angry and destructive at any time. It is a great introduction to an aspect of Japanese culture, how they face danger, yet live their lives in the traditional way. Eventually, rebuilding what was lost in the same location and using the same construction materials.

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