Residues of Squalor

885 Words4 Pages
The short story “Residues of Squalor” by Oka Yoko and the graphic novel “Barefoot Gen” by Keiji Nakazawa are similar in context and setting but differ slightly thematically. In “Residues of Squalor,” there seems to be a greater theme involving the desire to forget, while Nakazawa’s experience of WWII seems to be more thematically based on the desire to remember the events that occurred and to make sure it is never forgotten. In “Residues of Squalor,” the main character, which may be a portrayal of Yoko herself during post WWII Japan, is struggling to come to terms with the destruction of Japan and all the repercussions of the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Throughout the short story, Yoko presents the main character as somewhat depressed with life and understandable so concerning her living conditions. The main character lives in a small hovel with about six other family members. Aside from the cramped quarters, the hut is infested with slugs. Most all the inhabitants of the hut want to do away with the slug infestation by simply killing them with salt. For the main character, however, the slugs remind her of Japanese victims immediately after the dropping of the atomic bomb, helpless, innocent, burned, and melted. In the beginning of the short story, the them involving the desire to forget various parts of history in exemplified by the main characters habits of alcohol consumption and tendency to consume sleeping pills during the middle of the day. Aside, from horrible visual memories of the bombing, the main character is plagued with the thought that her son, whom she has never met, may have killed either during the dropping of the bomb or at some other point during the war. When this realization occurs, she contemplates whether she wants to either forget about his existence or continue to hope for his survival. The main character
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