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“The Mole” by Yasunari Kawabata

This short story is written in the form of a letter. Sayoko, the protagonist, writes a letter to her husband. The story unfolds around a mole she has. Through the mole, all the delicate, complex, and conflicting emotions unspool. I was thoroughly impressed by this unique perspective of Kawabata’s. Readers wonder what this mole represents. Sayoko’s ego? Her identity? Her secret? Sayoko has a habit of touching her mole, which her husband detests and orders her to stop it. Still, she never does. That in the end leads to her husband inflicting violence on her. What is curious is that she seems to be intentionally fiddling with her mole to draw his attention towards her or even to induce abuse.

‘“What’s happened to your mole?” I was waiting for you to say, but after that the word “mole” disappeared from our conversation. And perhaps many other things disappeared with it.’

When her husband stops using the word “mole”, everything else is also gone. The mole was the only and the last connector between the two, both mentally and physically. As with other stories of Kawabata’s, intricate emotions are expressed between the lines, which fascinate and capture the readers. We sort of fill in the blanks on our own, sometimes being baffled and confused. This piece is so delicately and elegantly crafted. Kawabata is superb.


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