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Overcoming Isolation in The Samurai's Garden, by Gail Tsukiyama

Decent Essays
Like walking through a barren street in a crumbling ghost town, isolation can feel melancholy and hopeless. Yet, all it takes is an ordinary flower bud amidst the desolation to show life really can exist anywhere. This is similar to Stephen’s journey in The Samurai’s Garden. This novel is about an ailing Chinese boy named Stephen who goes to a Japanese village during a time of war between Japan and China to recover from his disease. By forming bonds with several locals and listening to their stories, he quickly matures into a young adult. Throughout the novel, Gail Tsukiyama shows how disease forces Stephen into isolation; however, Matsu’s garden and Sachi lead him out of solitude. When Stephen contracts tuberculosis and is sent to…show more content…
In this quote, it is clear that disease leads Stephen to isolation, because had it not been for his disease, Stephen would not have to come here and stay alone with Matsu. Much later in the novel, after having settled down in Tarumi, Stephen receives a letter from his friend King from Hong Kong. After reading the letter, Stephen laments, “Whatever, I suddenly ached to be doing the same thing. It had been over a year since I’d last seen my family and friends. I wanted to be like everyone else again, but I felt like a stranger, like I no longer belonged anywhere” (197). Stephen indirectly mentions both his disease and isolation in this quote. By using the phrase “wanted to be like everyone else”, he is referring to his desire to be with former friends and family and enjoy the same activities that are able to do. Unfortunately, the physical constraints of his disease prevent him from doing so. Stephen shows that because of his tuberculosis, he is forced to live in Tarumi, which is why it “had been over a year since [he’d] last seen his family and friends”. By using strong language like “suddenly ached”, “stranger”, and “no longer belonged anywhere”, Stephen portrays a sense of disconnection to the world he left behind. This detachment accurately shows his loneliness because the different surroundings and new people make him feel all alone. Through these quotes, it is clear to see that because of the need to recuperate from his
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