Social Values in Modern Asian Short Stories Essay

April 20, 2022 by Essay Writer


Stories in an anthology often depict the cultural beliefs of a society in which they are based. Stories have been used as a way of passing down communal values to young generations. These stories have information literary on all the values that the society upholds and even those that are despised. Therefore, it is very easy to comprehensively understand a given society by analyzing the stories written about that society.

This essay is a form of analysis of societies depicted in four stories. The four stories which are analyzed are the Silver Trout Fishing Network, Third Meeting, A Day and a Half of Freedom and Until the Next Century. Societal values that are depicted in these stories will be analyzed in this essay with a major emphasis laid on how the different societies depicted in the stories view relationships.

Half of Freedom

A Day and a Half of Freedom is a wonderful story set in Asia specifically in Japan, Tokyo in the 1960s. At this time in Tokyo, kids and adults attended schools and worked respectfully half a day on Saturdays thus Saturday afternoons were full of freedom. Through Kazuo’s imagination, a reader is previewed how a Saturday afternoon may be spent in Tokyo. The author used a flashback to build up the rest of the story in bringing out an element of discrimination which was directed to the Koreans by the Japanese.

The third meeting is a story from Korea authored by Mi-na Choi. The story is about a family that struggles to make ends meet. There are so many disappointments in the family and the story is filled up with heartbreaking moments. The story is weaved around Kyung-sook and her struggles in her life and the hard moment she had to confront her son Seuk-ho whom she even never brought up. The third story is until the next century and is written by Xu Xi and based in Hong Kong. This story is centered on two lovers. The Silver Trout Fishing Network was based in Korea and written by Yun Dae Nylon. The story is about a fishing network called The Silver Trout. Through the interaction of the members of this network, we get to understand the way of life at this moment in Korea.

Third Meeting

All four stories above depict different relationships among people of different ages. Generally, the relationship in the stories can be classified into romance, marriage, and just friendship. The Third Meeting story presented a very strained kind of relationship between a mother and her son and between the mother again and her family consisting of two sons to whom she is a stepmother. Kyung-sook goes through a very trying moment especially after the first meeting with her son Seuk-ho.

Seek-ho is mistreated by the stepbrothers. Seek-sook has torn apart between her son Seuk-ho and her family. After Seuk-ho being mistreated by the stepbrothers, he goes back to her grandmother where somehow he makes through his academics and enrolls in the military. Seek-ho shows attachment to his mum despite all the bitter moments they underwent and as a show of confidence in her, he (Seuk-ho) sent his baby to be taken care of by the mum (Seuk-sook). In my opinion, I see the relationship between Seuk-sook and Seuk-ho has a very tight one despite all the fire that this relationship undergoes.

The other relationships that are depicted in the other stories are just casual; the parties involved are not seen making many sacrifices towards sustaining their relationship. For instance, in the story, a day and a half of freedom friendship between kazoo and Munro can be classified as that of convenience. Despite being friends and in the same group at school with Munro, Kazoo is hesitant to associate with Minuro upon realizing that he was helping his father to push the cart full of old newspapers uphill.

Kazuo seems to be ashamed of Minuro because of his (Munro’s) dressing. In this same story, we are shown a strained relationship between the Japanese people and the Koreans whereby the Japanese treat the Koreans with a lot of contempt and this comes out after Munro defeated a fifth-grader in sumo; the fifth-grader (Masato) ashamed after being thrown down three times insulted Minoru by saying, “Tsk! Who can wrestle with a Korean who stinks of garlic, anyway?” (Carolan 22). Intra-family relationship as covered in this story is one which is developed; this is seen in the family of Kazuo whereby the mum takes good care of her family by cooking for them meals on time.

Silver Trout Fishing Network

Both the stories The Silver Trout Fishing Network and Until the Next Century presents the casual relationship between adults in the course of their life; in these two stories, an element of adultery comes out especially in the story Until The Next Century. In the four stories analyzed in this essay, there is no element of gay relationship or lesbianism; probably this is due to the time that the stories are set in – a time when gay and lesbian issues were still not public issues as it is currently.

Until the Next Century

Reading through the four stories, I noted a couple of major problems that are affecting the relationships of the characters in the stories. One problem which cuts across the four stories was the lack of sufficient commitment to the relationships. I saw this running across all the relationships that I identified in the three books. The most affected relationship was that of Seuk-sook and her son Seuk-ho.

Though poverty played a role in separating Seuk-sook and her son, it can be argued that she was not very much committed to the mother-son relationship because she never made an attempt to go and visit her son but instead it was her son who came to look out for her. Lack of sufficient commitment is also seen on the part of Kazoo towards Minuro. He does not want to come out to be seen by Minuro because Minuro is shabbily dressed and later he (Kazoo) accepts that what he did was a form of discrimination. In the story Until the Next Century, we see a lack of commitment of a husband to his wife and still, in The Silver Trout Fishing Network, there are some elements of lack of commitment by the characters to relationships.

I feel that poverty is a major cause of the major problems that are experienced by the various characters across the four stories. This is crystal clear in the story of the Third Meeting where a mother and her son are drawn into such awkward situations as they struggle to sustain themselves through life. A Day and a Half Freedom also present another case of poverty causing a straining moment in a relationship; it was poverty that had necessitated the contempt with which the Koreans were being viewed by the Japanese. The Silver Trout Fishing Network and Until the Next Century do not bring out clearly how poverty affects relationships.

The role of society is not brought out clearly except in only one story that is A Day and a Half Freedom. The Japanese society in this story makes the lives of the Koreans very tough; the Japanese society views negatively the Koreans and this creates a room for discrimination of the Korean society. The four stories are set in different countries: Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea. Going through the stories, I was able to identify some differences in the societies as depicted by the four stories.

Japan society was depicted as a developing society with development minded people. In Japan, people worked till two on Saturday and went for a weekend break afterward and students attended school a half a day on Saturday. Korea comes out as a struggling nation compared to Japan. Through the story Third Meeting we see abject poverty literary tearing apart a family. Hong Kong on its part is shown as a well-off society.


The four stories come out well and bring out the kind of struggles that different people in Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan face. Lack of sufficient commitment to relationships comes out clearly in the stories as the cause of strife in relationships. Poverty was also pointed out to have played a significant part in causing problems in relationships.

Work Cited

Carolan, Trevor. Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific. Boston, MA: Cheng & Tsui, 2009. Print.

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