Motherhood in The River Ki of Ariyoshi Sawako

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Phanphitchaya Panyafu


This article aims to study the motherhood that was created in The River Ki (Kinokawa.『紀ノ川』) of Ariyoshi Sawako. This research examined the motherhood of female characters: Hana (花), Fumio (文緒), and Hanako (
華子), who were women in the Meiji era, Taisho era, and Showa era, including the social factors that molded them. This study found one important thing about social factors. That was public education for Japanese women in their early age paying respect to the concept of being “good wife, wise mother” (ryousai kenbo. 良妻賢母). The female characters in the literature were well educated at home and at school. This molded the motherhood according to the teaching style and the teaching content. The result of the study shows that
the maternal natures of Hana and Fumio are different. Hana is a mother who believes in the duty of women to give birth and raise children for their family as it is expected by the Japanese society. She also sacrifices her personal happiness for the welfare of the family. Accordingly, this is cultivated through teaching by her grandmother and school. However, Fumio does not hold the role of wife and mother as Hana does. Fumio’s motherhood does not conform to the social norm of “good wife, wise mother”. And her school does not focus solely on being a mother and wife. So, she expresses the characteristics of the modern motherhood that Taisho female activists sought. While Hanako is a female character in the type of family which has abandoned the old Japanese family system. Even though the motherhood of Hanako is not de fined clearly, her pursuit for an old family tradition and life with her grandmother, creates an ideal concept of family for Hanako who has nostalgic thoughts.


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