Essay about Empire of the Sun (Opinion)
The novel tells the story, in a fictional account, of the author's experiences as a young boy in Shanghai at the outbreak of the Second World War. Jim, the third person narrator of the novel, is separated from his parents when the Japanese invade Shanghai at the end of 1941. The first part of the novel tells of his adventures on the streets of Shanghai, trying first of all to find his parents, then to give himself up to the Japanese. When even that fails, Jim's life becomes a …show more content…
The novel opens with Shanghai still a free city, seemingly dominated by Europeans at the expense of the native Chinese who live in the most part in grinding poverty. It also looks back at the bloody invasion of China by Japan and the subsequent brutal war. What struck me most about the novel was its descriptions of life under Japanese rule and the dreadful interment camps. Although I have read a lot about the holocaust, in comparison to the Nazis, the Japanese seemed governed by indifference interspersed with casual, brutal violence, rather than an ideological desire to exterminate whole races of people. The one thing that I did see in common with both parties was an inability to see the people that they were exterminating as human beings.
Before I read "Empire of the Sun", I knew very little about the Second World War in the Far East or about the Japanese in general. It is an subject area that I really ought to find out more about. The one thing that did strike me was the very alien nature of both Japanese and Chinese society when compared to European society. In particular, I am fascinated by how Japanese society could end up breeding such indifference towards other human beings, both Chinese and European alike.
Not that the Europeans come out of the novel in a much