Katherine Paterson catches the interesting and lifelike experiences of a Japanese teen in one of her extraordinary novels, The Sign of the Chrysanthemum. Closing in on a tie between realistic fiction and historical fiction gives way to a surprising victory for historical fiction for the result that this book was set in the time of the twelfth-century Japan and the quarrel of two actual rival clans: the Genji and the Heike!
In this historical fiction novel it tells of a boy named Muna who sets off to find his father for a noble name after his mother’s death. During the free ship ride he meets a ronin named Takanobu who becomes his friend. The Red Dog catches on fire and Muna is saved by Fukuji, the swordsmith. Takanobu, who comes back from his pretend death, claims to be his father and tells Muna to give him a sword from Fukuji. Muna steals the sword of Fukuji and reacts soon after he sees the ugly truth of Takanobu with a swing of the sword towards his hand.
Fukuji receives the sword back from Muna and forgives him. At the end, Muna decides to keep his name, no name and as Fukuji heard that he made Muna his apprentice. A very well approved theme is the motto: “Through fire is the spirit forged,” meaning through the pain of Muna’s spirit or experience is when his true personality or soul has been acknowledged into the inspirational outlook of his own heart. For instance, Muna’s mother died so he went to find his father.
Another result was that Kawaki had died due to a serious disease so his daughter Akiko who Muna had loved was sent to a bawdy house. As an attempt to save her he got beat up by Kato the bodyguard of the bawdy house. When Fukuji asked Muna to choose any name that he wanted, he decided to keep the name, Muna because either way it wouldn’t change who he was. As a result, Fukuji made him his apprentice, after he, himself approved of his own nobility. The main character, Muna has a very determined personality.
One example is the fact he tries to find his father a Heike warrior. Another example is while he tries to save Akiko, he doesn’t stop when the hostess told him to leave since he had no money and calls out for Kato, a burly man. He was determined to go into the Red Dog while it was on fire to find Takanobu. He was also determined to have a noble name. The second characteristic of Muna is the result of how fortunate he can be. For example, he met Takanobu and became grateful to him for saving him from the captain whom demanded payment.
Furthermore, while he was in the capital he meets Kawaki a sandal maker and Akiko his daughter who kindly fed him food for his story. He is fortunate to meet Fukuji, the sword smith that saves him and took him in. He is also fortunate to have been forgiven by Fukuji once he returned the sword back to him. As the reader, I must say that it has been a pleasant occurring of understanding such a deep and better than good novel of a boy who came about to being a man in the end.
It really touched me that I have a lot in common with the novel. My connections happen through my childhood as a kid when I really didn’t like my name as well as Muna did and after I stole something that wasn’t mine I ended up getting caught by my mom so I definitely learned my lesson when I was young! Therefore, I learned that it takes time, pain, and suffering to actually make someone grow up into a very respectful adult. In contrast, I hope I never go through what Muna did, but I might evidently will in the future!