The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Father Figures

Father figures are hailed as malicious beings throughout the novel by Noboru and his gang. They believe that fathers aim to conform and mold them into societal values. The chief quotes "They're suspicious of anything creative, anxious to whittle the world down into something puny they can handle. A father is a reality-concealing machine for dishing up lies to kids, and that isn't even the worst of it - secretly he believes that he represents reality".

Noboru and his gang believe father figures suppress their freedom and their ability. The chief quotes "there's nothing they want to do to contaminate our freedom and our ability. Nothing they won't do to protect the filthy cities they've built for themselves". This is further seen as each of the boys describe their fathers - Number Two's father beats him; Number Four's father is a drunk, bullies his mother and has three mistresses. Noboru accepts this further to hold pride that his father passed away when he was eight and cannot suppress him.

This further explains Noboru's aversion to accept Ryuji as his father figure. As father figures are 'bad', this further justifies the boys' decision to kill him and to prevent him changing from a 'hero' to what they perceive as a 'villain'. At the same time, it may also be interpreted that Noboru's aversion to father figures may serve as his defense mechanism to deal with his loss.


Marriage, in the novel, is a symbol for weaknesses and conformity. Although Ryuji's viewpoints on marriage eventually change, early in the novel he considers other officers who are married and have two or three children to have "thrown their opportunity away", stating that "there's no hope for them anymore". The idea of marriage, children and settling down becomes a hindrance towards the pursuit of glory. To marry is to give up glory; to achieve glory is to give up a life of marriage.

Although Ryuji's viewpoint on marriage changes and eventually marries Fusako, Noboru's does not. He views Ryuji's marriage proposal as an act of weakness as he conforms to society and gives up his pursuit of glory. To marry is to follow social norms, yet the gang believe that society is "fiction", therefore not worthy enough to conform to.

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