Answering to Discussion Questions
- Who is the main protagonist of the novel? Are any of the characters presented in a sympathetic light?
The main protagonist is Mieko Togano. The character presented in a sympathetic light is Mieko Togano’s widowed daughter in law Yasuko.
- Can Masks be considered a feminist work? Does the novel present a critique of patriarchal society and the institution of the family? In other words, can Mieko’s actions be considered a rebellion against the institution of family (i.e.) or a propagation of it?
Masks appears to be in the form of an indirect mockery on the patriarchal society since it portrays some form of liberalization theory from a feminist perspective. The history of women oppression enables one to understand the relevance of the novel. During her days as a young bride, Mieko suffered a miscarriage planned by her husband’s mistress as a way of revenging against her family. Mieko plans for a lifelong revenge against the family by conceiving twins by another man and giving them the Togano family name. This in itself is a form of rebellion against the institution of the family since it depicts a scenario where children sired by another man are given names of the family they do not belong to. The consequences of infidelity in the institution of the family threaten to eradicate Togano’s lineage.
- How are the differences between traditional and modern culture presented in the work? Which characters embody those characteristics?
The relationship between male and female characters is presented in both traditional and modern cultures perspectives. This is evident when Mieko is a young bride and the society is characterized by male domination. Mieko loses her first pregnancy to her husband’s mistress who is jealous of her family. Traditionally men had lovers out of marriage. However, Mieko and her daughter in-law Yasuko represent women whose desire is to overturn the societal belief that women are the weaker gender subordinate to men. They strive to reveal the kind of strength that women poses but is lacking in men. Through schemes, they succeed in revenging and eventually dominating the male characters without their knowledge.
- What is the significance of the “mask” as metaphor in Enchi’s work?
By using masks as titles of the book’s sections, Enchi brings about an atmosphere of illusion characterized by multi-layered identities. The masks depict the life stages of a woman. It displays the deceptive and secretive nature of women. This illusion created by the mask leaves the reader guessing about that the truth beneath Mieko’s numerous masks.