The Forest in the Depths of Her Eyes: Sayoko’s Silence and Art-Making as a Reparative Force in Medoruma Shun’s Me no oku no mori
Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Kyle Keoni Ikeda
Art therapy, trauma, Okinawan literature, Japanese literature, World War II
This thesis provides a literary analysis of an important novel by Okinawan writer Medoruma Shun, Me no oku no mori (In the Woods of Memory, 2009), a work which makes a significant contribution to the international body of trauma literature about war survivors, in this case first and second generation survivors of the Battle of Okinawa whose psyches have been deeply affected by the Asia-Pacific War over the course of sixty years after its official end in 1945. This examination adds a new perspective to previous literary analyses and critical discussions of the novel, by focusing on artistic expression and its ability to act as a reparative force, as revealed by Medoruma’s depiction of Sayoko, a wartime rape survivor suffering seemingly permanent psychological damage, who engages her past through artwork. I argue that art-making serves a vital, reparative purpose, allowing Sayoko to confront, articulate, and transmit aspects of her traumatic experiences that cannot be easily linguistically coded. I suggest an analysis of the poetic essentiality of the title of the novel and its connections to hidden memory, the gaze, eye contact or aversion, and perspective as a starting point for understanding how while art can serve as a tool for healing, Sayoko also faces numerous limitations in making her traumatic memory known.
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Holm, Alisa, "The Forest in the Depths of Her Eyes: Sayoko’s Silence and Art-Making as a Reparative Force in Medoruma Shun’s Me no oku no mori" (2015). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 94.