The Sea And Poison Character Analysis

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Shusaku Endo’s The Sea and Poison poses the age old question: who, if anyone, has the right to play God? The character that struggles most with this is Dr. Suguro. Endo begins this novel wanting the audience to despise Suguro, writing in the prologue that he was a “funny sort of guy” and of him muttering “…Because nothing could be done. At that time nothing could be done. From now on, I’m not sure at all. If I were caught in the same way, I might, I might just do the same thing again. The same thing…” (Endo 16-30). Suguro’s mutterings present the question: what would you do if you were in Suguro’s shoes? Would you regret participating in these experiments or would you stand by your actions? The title of this novel is a representation of our…show more content…
Endo writes “there was a cold, metallic chillness to that touch. More than that, there was an impersonal, unfeeling competency to it which seemed to deal with me not as a patient but as some sort of laboratory specimen” (Endo 20). It is with this mention of laboratory specimen, that the reader begins to identify Suguro as a mentally unstable character, affected by something that is much bigger than him. Endo adds “he was thinking about something else, it seemed, something which had nothing to do with me or with my affairs” (20). Despite Suguro’s cold exterior, he used his medical skill to insert the needle into the narrator’s flesh without even making him flinch (21). While Suguro’s heart is hardened from the poison he was subjected to during the experiments, the young Suguro introduced in the first chapter is hopeful for his patients’ recoveries and determined to provide them with the best medical care available. While the rest of the doctors think he’s “always going to extra trouble” for welfare cases and they feel that his attitude “would do no good at all and could, in fact, do harm” (32-33). Suguro’s coworker Toda believes that Suguro will never live if he is not tough…show more content…
Doctors aren’t saints. They want to be successful. They want to become full professors and when they want to try out new techniques, they don’t limit their experiments to monkeys and dogs. Suguro, this is the world, and you ought to take a closer look at it” (50-51). These manifestations of Suguro’s caring nature leaves the audience feeling sympathy for this broken man and relating his struggles with their own. The final characteristic that Suguro possessed is weakness. While Suguro was morally strong, his inability to stand up for his beliefs made him weak and it was this extreme amount of weakness that ultimately led to his demise. Following the death of a patient, Suguro is “at a loss to know what to do” constantly questioning himself hopelessly, “What’s the use?” (Endo 65). He becomes physically and mentally depressed at this loss of this patient, feeling “no interest nor enthusiasm now for his work, for his patients in their beds, for the hospital in general (67). It is this defeatist attitude that allows the poison to start creeping into his veins. Suguro’s exclamation of “It all comes out the same no matter what you do. Today everybody’s on the way out” (70) perfectly describes his fate: if you do not protect your morals and beliefs, then you must be prepared to change them or watch them

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