A Novel of Masuji Lbuse "Black Rain"

            The symbolization of bamboo spears and the situation during the Hiroshima bombing.

             In the novel, Black Rain, by Masuji Ibuse, the bamboo spears symbolize the situation that the Japanese were in during the Hiroshima bombing. The Japanese have many traditions and just because their country is at war, does not mean that they should stop these traditions and give up all of their symbols of honor, pride, and dignity. During the war, one such symbol of honor or active duty was the bamboo spears.

             These bamboo spears that the village headman speaks of while giving an official send-off to the Young Men's Association are as he says, "those symbols of your invincible determination to fight on to the bitter end - your bamboo spears” (13). He explains to these young men that the bamboo spears they hold should not be dropped until the end has come in such a way as if he was a Caesar leading his troops into the battle of Carthage. He glorifies these bamboo spears and the village headman never states what is this astringent end and he does not say this because they do not see the bitter end coming any time soon. Yet as the men leave this going off, they head on their long walk and one group sits down to eat lunch. They hear a broadcast from the Emperor that seems to induce a state of defeat in all of the soldiers and makes them as if a cat has their tongue. They are left speech less and "When it was finished, they sat for a while in silence" (13). The soldiers continue to sit in silence and they suddenly decide to bequeath their bamboo spears for the farmer to ameliorate the relationship because they freely used his veranda. The reader can assume here that what the Emperor said is that the bomb had been dropped and the ending of the war has started and that Japan is no longer fighting. The soldiers decide to give away their bamboo spears because they no longer have a use for them. These spears symbolize their side in the war and because Japan is stepping out, there is no more reason to have the spears.

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