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facing the unknown 7

May 1, 2017

Stephen writes that while on the train to Tarumi  he breathed in the “fear and attraction of facing the unknown” (7).  During the first chapter of the novel, I wonder about the balance of these two emotions.  For example, has he been showing more of one than the other?  As he meets new people and experiences, how has handled his fear and attraction?


  1. Stephen shows more attraction of facing the unknown, than fear. He ignores his health condition when he goes for a swim at the beach, although the words of Ching and his mother are still in the back of his head. Living in Tarumi has allowed Stephen to live without worrying about how his actions may effect his health, causing him not to have to live on edge. Instead it has freed Stephen mentally from a health condition that restrains him from doing certain things and worrying about how his health could effect others around him. Becuase of this Stephen is more free to do the things he loves, more eager to step outside of his comfort zone, and approach situations without fear.

  2. Will Harrell permalink

    Stephen begins to show more fear than attraction toward the unknown at the start of the novel. When he gets on the train and has to deal with this journey of being exiled, it seems to push him further into the fear side because he starts to miss his family as he goes away. As Stephen does new things on his journey, he begins to be attracted to trying new things as he goes on. He goes to Sachi’s house with joy, and as a result he begins talking to Matsu more after. He feels safe now with Matsu because he is building a better relationship with him. Now that he feels safe, he does not feel as much fear towards what he has to face next.

  3. Richard Johnston permalink

    When facing the unknown, the impending results will almost always be either positive or negative. Attraction towards the unknown is created through the hope of positive outcomes while fear of the unknown is caused by fright of the negative outcomes. If you live life cowering in fear of the unknown, you will never be able to reap the benefits of taking a simple risk. I believe this is the exact approach Steven has taken when facing the unknown. Steven has been ill for a very long time and was evidently losing hope, causing his parents to send him to Tarumi. He then made the conscious decision to face all of the unknown with a newly found boldness. Matsu was a quiet hermit, but Steven was able to turn him into a close friend by reaching out to him. He went into a small town where every inhabitant suffers from leprosy. This shows how little fear he has not only of catching the disease but of facing the terrible things the people had to go through. Steven reached out to Keiko, a village girl, and set up a “date” with her. Back in Hong Kong, Steven would never have done that, but he has found a fire in himself pushing him to try new things.

  4. In the novel, as Stephen faces the unknown he is nervous yet settled. He is calm and happy to get away by himself in order to better his health, but is nervous about being alone for an extended period of time. We see in the novel that at certain points Stephen becomes lonely and longs for his visiting father. As the novel progresses, Stephen becomes more interested in Matsu and his past life. This becomes his priority and makes him forget about a majority of his worries. Going to the beach house improved Stephens health and allowed him to take part in many physical activities like swimming and hiking.

  5. elizabeth dickson permalink

    Stephen shows more attraction to facing the unknown rather than fear. As he jumps off the train Stephen appears a bit hesitant but his thoughts are positive and he’s exciting to see if things were how he remembered. When going down to the beach, eating with Matsu, and learning how to take a Japanese bath all of the worries about his illness he holds onto vanish. Stephen is living more in the moment than he did before in Hong Kong. Getting away for this excursion is healing for him and good for his health.

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