Week 16: 小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories [END]

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小川未明童話集 - Ogawa Mimei’s Collection of Children’s Stories Home Thread

Week 16


Start Date: Dec 11th
Previous Part: Week 15.2


Week Start Date Chapter Pages 1951ed. Pages 2013ed. Page Count
Week 16 Dec 11th 18. 蠟人形 12

Vocabulary List

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This story was a pain to read, I’m afraid. The paragraphs were endlessly long, the words my dictionary couldn’t pick up were numerous, and the kanji usage excessive. I’m talking about words like 何時いつ or 其様そんな , 彼処此処あちらこちら and 一寸ちょっと. There was also next to no furigana, which was a surprise since all the previous stories on Aozora had furigana on everything. All in all, it really felt like a story from a different collection altogether, and if it wasn’t for the classic Mimei ending out of nowhere, I would have believed I had been reading the wrong thing.

As for the story itself, I thought it was rambling a lot about all sorts of unrelated things, and this time I really can’t connect the ending (or even the title) to anything much. I gave up trying to understand every little detail pretty early on, but here’s the gist as far as I understand it:
We get a description of a northern seaside town, a man living there who didn’t like to talk much, his wife who did, and their son who was more like his father and was bullied at school. We get an excruciatingly long part of the story describing this bullying in detail, and the criminal indifference of the teacher(s). We get a painful graduation scene, then the boy is sent off to Tokyo with some random man as an apprentice. The boy returns to the town after 5 years of no news at all, on the day of some festival, sick with beriberi(?) but otherwise a nice successful young man according to the town gossip. He stays on for ages, presumably until he gets better, and in the meantime he makes (unsuccessfully at first) wax dolls to pass the time. In the end there are apparently three that he made with some skill, one melts in the fire by mistake, one he takes to Tokyo as a souvenir, and the other one’s whereabouts are unknown (for now). The boy leaves his hometown for Tokyo, and three years later we see his parents working, wondering what’s going on with him as there’s again no news.
Cut to the last couple of paragraphs: a beach scene with a girl we’ve never heard of before, but who apparently stood by the protagonist while he was being bullied. The scene is strangely sensual in its description (or am I horribly misunderstanding?), and the girl sings love songs while kissing the third wax doll. Cut to the next scene, the doll is abandoned on the beach, melted beyond recognition.
The end.
So what was the point of this story exactly? Bullying? The ephemeral nature of love and life? That I should probably give up on stories I don’t particularly like instead of insisting on finishing them just because?