Silence and Beauty

“We have the tendency to extol heroes of faith; our textbooks and our sermons are filled with the heroic. In doing so, we fall into a false dichotomy of seeing faith only in terms of victory or failure, which leads us to dismiss and discard the weak. Endo stands with those sitting in the pews who feel inadequate and uncertain, who doubt whether they can be strong, heroic and faith-filled…In Silence the character Kichijiro represents all of the “children of failed faith” and the centrepiece of Endo’s attempt to redefine the concept of hero. Kichijiro is orphaned, his past was traumatic, and he is rejected by the community and his family. His witness is miserably non-existent. Yet to Endo, Kichijiro is also the counterpoint to the male imperialism of the Christian West, brought into Japan symbolically through Father Rodrigues; Kichijiro is Endo himself, vacillating, hiding his true motives, but finding inexplicably the deeper reality of beauty, the beauty born of sacrifice. Fumi-e, an emblem of Kichijiro’s failure, becomes in Endo’s hands a Japanese critique of Western triumphalist faith.”

Makoto Fujimura, Silence and Beauty, 41-42.

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