His short story "Aghwee the Sky Monster" "Sora no kaibutsu Aguii" combines both the central autobiographical motif of A Personal Matter with the surreal play on perspectives exemplified in Dojidai gemu to produce one of his best and most unique works—a narrative that is both grotesquely funny and unsentimentally poignant. An unnamed young student the narrator is hired to look after D, an eccentric composer who believes that he is being haunted by a huge phantom baby, whom he calls Aghwee. The student soon learns that the composer himself has just lost his child, a baby born with a brain tumor who was allowed to die in the hospital, and he deduces that guilt toward his lost child is causing D's hallucinations. The student's job consists of following D around Tokyo, often witnessing the composer's one-sided exchanges with Aghwee when the baby apparently descends from the sky.
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His short story "Aghwee the Sky Monster" "Sora no kaibutsu Aguii" combines both the central autobiographical motif of A Personal Matter with the surreal play on perspectives exemplified in Dojidai gemu to produce one of his best and most unique works—a narrative that is both grotesquely funny and unsentimentally poignant.
An unnamed young student the narrator is hired to look after D, an eccentric composer who believes that he is being haunted by a huge phantom baby, whom he calls Aghwee. The student soon learns that the composer himself has just lost his child, a baby born with a brain tumor who was allowed to die in the hospital, and he deduces that guilt toward his lost child is causing D's hallucinations. The student's job consists of following D around Tokyo, often witnessing the composer's one-sided exchanges with Aghwee when the baby apparently descends from the sky.
But one day the composer, seemingly deep in discussion with the phantom child, steps in front of a truck and is killed. The narrator then decides that Aghwee was simply a pretense for the composer to prepare his own suicide. He confronts the dying man, shouting, "I was about to believe in Aghwee! Although Japanese critics tend to see "Aghwee" as a form of alternative autobiography, the story can actually be interpreted on many levels.
As the narrator's last accusation suggests, "Aghwee" is a story revolving around problems of perception, belief, and guilt. Vision, both of the real and the unreal, is a fundamental key to understanding the tale.
Thus the young student theorizes that the composer is trying to show his dead child the world he missed by bringing Aghwee on his explorations around Tokyo. At the same time the composer shows the student something as well, a fantasy world where "lost" things, people, animals, and experiences still exist unperceived in the sky. Although the student has often been lost in his own fantasy world of obsessive movie viewing—he immediately conflates Aghwee with the giant rabbit in the Jimmy Stewart film Harvey , for example—it takes him until the end of the story to truly understand the composer's message.
This is shown in the coda to "Aghwee," when the narrator loses his eye in an accident. As he says in the story's last lines, "When I was wounded … and sacrificed the sight in one eye … I had been endowed if only for an instant with the power to perceive a creature that had descended from the heights of my sky.
This tension between different modes of perception also contains an implicit social criticism. Those who do not "see" are usually characterized as members of the establishment such as D's businessman father, who only worries about guarding his family from any scandal caused by his "lunatic" son, or D's former wife, O a "tomato faced" newspaper magnate's daughter who sees her exhusband's actions as simply "escapist.
Aghwee himself is another "marginal" character in his status of both victim and phantom. Michiko Wilson points out that Aghwee is not content to remain a passive victim. In fact, he performs a trickster function, "haunting" his guilt-obsessed father and thereby shocking his straitlaced grandfather.
The fantasy in "Aghwee" is more contained but no less effective. Indeed, "Aghwee" is also impressive as an almost textbook exposition of Todorov's structuralist theory of the fantastic, in which the fantastic is characterized by a hesitation between a natural explanation and a supernatural one.
Ultimately, however, the narrative goes beyond the formal pleasures of the fantastic to suggest a moral dimension as well. Those who are slightly outside the real world—due to mental or physical abnormalities—often see another, richer, world around them.
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Aghwee The Sky Monster
Aghwee the Sky Monster is one of those family orientated stories. However, Oe uses it to explore an alternative life, a life in which he let his son die instead of helping him live. The story followed the character D and his psychological trauma from killing his new born son. The dead baby, Aghwee, is a key character in the story. Oe uses his characters not only to represent other family members, but also himself. He is reported to have said that upon the birth of his son, he experienced an identity crisis. In comparison to other Oe Kenzaburo works, Aghwee the Sky Monster is different story to one he usually writes when looking at family relationships.
Aghwee the Sky Monster (Sora no Kaibutsu Aguii) by Oe Kenzaburo, 1972
This story, though it took a few pages to draw me in, left me feeling relieved in the end for D had gracefully bowed out of his life. Oe uses many motifs and recurring images throughout the story that draw connection within the plot and to other aspects of Japanese culture. First is that in the beginning of the story, the narrator repeatedly talks about the essence of time and his eyes. The depiction of time is talked about throughout the short story as D is dealing with his own reality.
Teach us to Outgrow our Madness
Genre: Short Story. Toggle navigation. Annotated by: Taylor, Nancy. Date of entry: Mar Summary A college student takes a job as companion to a young composer who is considered crazy.