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Encyclopedia > A Pale View of Hills
A Pale View of Hills
Cover to the first edition
Cover to the first edition
Author Kazuo Ishiguro
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Faber and Faber
Released February 1982
Media Type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 192 pp (hardback first edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-571-11866-6 (hardback first edition)

A Pale View of Hills (1982) is the first novel by award-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. Image File history File links KazuoIshiguro_APaleViewOfHills. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative in prose. ... Faber and Faber is a celebrated publishing house in the UK, notable in particular for publishing the poetry of T. S. Eliot. ... A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) book is bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth or heavy paper) and a stitched spine. ... Paperback may refer to a kind of book binding by which papers are simply folded without cloth or leather and bound - usually with glue rather than stitches or staples - into a thick paper cover; or to a book with this type of binding. ... See also: 1981 in literature, other events of 1982, 1983 in literature, list of years in literature. ... A novel (from French nouvelle Italian novella, new) is an extended, generally fictional narrative in prose. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...



Plot introduction

This is a story of a Japanese woman named Etsuko now living alone in England, after the suicide of her eldest daughter. Her thoughts, however, are not on her daughter so much as they are on the more distant past, in the mysterious relationship she forms with a woman named Sachiko and her daughter, Mariko, some years before in Japan.


Plot summary

A few years later, she meets a British man and gets married. She takes the elder daughter, Keiko, of Jiro and herself to Britain with her new British husband. They have a daughter, and they name her Niki, a name that combines Japanese and English styles. Etsuko does not want to recall the memory of living in Japan, which ended very painfully for her, so she insists to have a western name instead of a Japanese name. But on the other hand, her husband likes the Eastern culture, so in order to make both of them happy, they choose Niki, a name that seems to have both of the styles, to be their daughter's name.

After Etsuko and Keiko move to Britain, Keiko always locks herself in her room and does not have any interaction with her family. In the end, because of the different cultures that make her feel she is isolated from others, she kills herself. The other cause of her death is because her mother and her stepfather have their own daughter, their own family. So Keiko thinks she doesn’t belong to their family, and no one will care about her. At last, she can not stand it anymore, so she chooses to commit suicide.

In this novel, Etsuko tells her daughter, Niki, she has a friend named Sachiko, whom she meets in Japan. Sachiko has a daughter named Mariko, a girl that preferred to live without touching the outside world. Sachiko plans to take Mariko to America with an American soldier. Sachiko's life is just like Etsuko's. Actually, the story of Sachiko that Etsuko tells Niki is her own story, but because she finds it difficult to tell as her own, she uses the third person narrator to describe her life and her thoughts to her daughter.


Characters in "A Pale View of Hills"

  • Etsuko – main protagonist
  • Keiko – Etsuko's elder daughter who commits suicide
  • Niki – Etsuko's second daughter, by her English husband
  • Sachiko – woman known to Etsuko, and according to above, a third person used to project Etsuko's thoughts and story.
  • Mariko – Sachiko's daughter, and consequently, Keiko.

Main themes

This book also describes the relationship between Jiro and his father, Ogata. Jiro is a busy worker, and every time his father wants to chat or play chess with him, he always refuses. Ogata doesn't complain, and perhaps even feels bad about tiring his son out. Really, he just wants to spend more time with his son, but Jiro is oblivious.

A possible interpretation of the novel is that author wants to bring the transforming Japanese psyche into the spotlight, including Japanese patriotism and the role of women. The former aspect is narrated by allowing Ogata's, a former teacher, views on the role of the school system to clash with the opposing views of a former student of his. Ogata insists it was most important that the youngsters were taught to love their country and feel grateful towards it, whereas his former student supposedly (it is not explicitly stated, only conveyed through a discussion between Ogata and Jiro on an article written by named student) argues this lead to blindness and failure to question authority, which he implies was an important factor in Japan's war activities before and during the Second World War. Ogata expresses sadness over the fact that people seem to pursue their own interests instead of being mindful of the collective's best, blaming the mind transition on the rising role of democracy.

The role of the women is discussed by letting, ironically, the old Ogata reflect on the changing roles of women during the time scope of the novel, whereas the younger characters, read Etsuko and Jiro, most of the time passively accept Ogata's arguments. Etsuko is repeatedly ordered by her husband Jiro to carry out mundane tasks such as providing him with breakfast and tea, and does so without questioning.

The story is a suggestive and disturbing one, dwelling on themes of loss, guilt and responsibility. It examines what we know, what we tell, and what we deny about the truth of our own history.

  Results from FactBites:
Road to East Asia (1461 words)
Pale views of the West, by Megan Donnelly, Neena Gill, and Hilaneh Mahmoudi
The Japanese novel A Pale View of Hills, by Kazuo Ishiguro, and the Korean story "The Young Zelkova," by Kang Sinja, portray three young women with differing views of the West and their East Asian heritage.
A Pale View of Hills, by Kazuo Ishiguro, demonstrates the struggle of Japan's prewar generation to keep their Japanese identity, values, and traditions, as well as the responses of the Nagasaki survivors to Western influences.
japantml4 (1998 words)
Critic Cynthia F. Wong judges A Pale View of Hills, with a first person narrator who tells the story of the suicide of one of her daughters, as an excellent example of Maurice Blanchot's theory that narrators recall and relate past experiences to divest themselves of memories and their past.
Like his next two novels, the protagonist of A Pale View of Hills, looks back on his or her life, trying to assess the events that have shaped it.
Wong, Cynthia F. "The Shame of Memory: Blanchot's Self-Dispossession in Ishiguro's 'A Pale View of Hills." CLIO 24.2 (Winter 1995): 127- 145.
  More results at FactBites »



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