Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Oe Kenzaburo, the 1994 Nobel Prize winner, is one of the most talented authors of the contemporary literary world. However, he has been criticized for lacking an interest in portraying female characters clearly especially in his early years of writing. Considering himself to be a member of the postwar generation, Oe wrote Our Age and Sexual Beings in 1959 and 1963 to illustrate two types of human beings in his generation, the political being (seiji teki ningen) and the sexual being (seiji teiki ningen) . While the political being is an active hero who opposes others, refusing to conform to any existence in opposition to him, the sexual being neither confronts nor competes with others and yields without any protest. Also in order to expose the despair and alienation of these post-Ampo Japanese youths, Oe creates male characters to portray this theme, while female characters play only supporting roles. In addition, though the female characters in these two novels are developed from those in earlier works, they are still flat characters and not sufficiently developed in the story compared with the male characters. They are still created as the ?other? in the society. In this essay, I will examine in detail how female characters in Oe?s Our Age and Sexual Beings are created as human beings who are inferior in the patriarchal society.

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