Free «Self-Denial Based on Two Novels» Essay Paper

Self-Denial Based on Two Novels

Self denial is a term that has different meanings. Firstly, it can mean the foregoing of the earthly pleasures for the purpose of ensuring the good of another person. Another meaning that can be derived from self denial concerns the shying away from reality and trying to act as if everything is fine. This is what abounds from two novels, which include “Sea and Butterfly” by Kim In-Sook and “I have the Right to destroy myself” by Kim Young-Ha. Self denial in these two novels abounds in various ways. For instance, in Kim Young-Ha’s novel, self denial is depicted in various instances such as when the narrator leaves the library and decides to pass by the “Insa-dong”. While at the Insa-dong to check on some paintings and music megastores, the narrator indicates how people that are standing there depict self-denial. The people seem to be unaware and uncaring about time that the narrator indicates; it betrays “their innermost desires”. The story is told from a fiction point of view and features a narrator within a narrator. Many instances of self-denial come to fore in the story as will be explicated below. On the other hand, “Sea and Butterfly” by Kim In-Sook is a story that can be described as the one filled with sharply etched and powerfully described alienation. The novel has good characterization and well described incidents, which raises a reader’s interest to the novel. The novel also explores how human relationships have been affected by distance and how modernity has worsened the situation further. Self-denial in the novel reveals from alienation. The novel also comprises of a story within a story and crimes of history are given an upper hand as a factor that contributes significantly to self-denial/alienation.

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This essay explicates how self-denial is evident in two novels namely “Sea and Butterfly” by Kim In-Sook and “I have the right to Kill myself” by Young-Ha Kim.

Firstly, in the novel “Sea and Butterfly” by Kim Kim In-Sook, denial is depicted by the fact that the narrator who is in a foreign land receives a call from Chae-geum who informs the narrator that she will be visiting the mother. The narrator depicts self-denial as he does not overcome emotion and reveals his innermost feelings. From the novel, the narrator indicates that Chae-geum waits in silence for the narrator’s quietness to transform into words, which does not happen. The narrator indicates that it was not her mother’s presence in Seoul that gripped his heart, but the fact that Chae-geum was also destined to the same place. The narrator, at this instance, reveals that he was not so inclined to his mother who was in Seoul, but he had a feeling, to Chae-geum, which he could not confidently explain. It is evident that the narrator had feelings of solace to Chae-geum, but she was denying it blatantly through explaining that she had only known the girl for barely a month, and she could not understand the nature of these feelings.

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Kim In-Sook incorporates several symbolisms in the novel “Sea and Butterfly”, which also aids in bringing out self-denial in the novel. For instance, the author employs the symbol of the plant. The narrator, in this context, indicates that she was caught by the shopkeeper in a reverie as the shopkeeper was waiting for him to pay while she was examining his life. At the same time, the narrator was trying to retrieve a petal, which had the size of a grain boiled rice and dark green in color from where it had landed. The narrator indicates that the flowers on the plant clung desperately on the plant, which is an indication of self-denial. It is common knowledge that flowers help the plant to survive, which makes the symbol of the flowers to depict self-denial. She further indicates that the flowers seemed to reprimand him for examining his life. That also depicts self-denial as life is supposed to be examined from time to time in order for a person to avoid past mistakes and forge on in the right way.

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Self-denial is also depicted after the narrator lands in China. According to the novel, the narrator is welcomed by a lady known as Lee Chae-geum who is also Korean but seems to be residing in China. Self-denial is illustrated by the situation when the narrator is taken aback by the fact that a staff in foreign land could be familiar with his native language and she in fact introduced herself by her full name. The narrator only becomes aware of who Chae-geum is after she revealed to him that she wanted to collect the money that her mother had entrusted on him. The narrator goes ahead to indicate that she did not know how the lady knew of his itinerary and must have gotten word from her mother. Self-denial is also depicted by the fact that Chae-geum’s mother had entrusted some money to the narrator and she had not let the narrator got privy of her daughter. This is weird because the narrator is expected to be familiar with the person that she is keeping money for.

Self-denial is also evident in how the narrator’s mother describes Chae-geum’s mother. The narrator indicates that her mother was furious concerning Chae-geum’s mother and accused her of selling off her daughter to the vegetable supplier who was above 40 years and still a bachelor. The narrator’s mother was furious because, in her opinion, she deemed Chae-geum’s mother as evil for marrying her daughter off to a person whom she knew she can manipulate. The fact that the narrator also indicates that her mother can also be considered in the same line as Chae-geum’s mother demonstrates self denial in the novel, as well. The main point in this context is that the narrator’s mother is no angel as she also has her shortcomings, but she chooses to see the speck in another woman’s eyes. The narrator reveals her mother’s evil such as the fact that she underpaid her workers and strained them because they were migrant workers who could not seek any legal redress. Besides, the narrator’s mother cashed in a lot from honest customers who failed to notice that the soup she sold them was just like any other.

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Another example of self denial is illustrated in the situation when the narrator asks the husband who was a drunkard about how dead people looked. The husband, in this context, tries to avoid the topic because he knows that he has a drinking problem that he could not handle. He chooses to remain silent instead of replying to the wife’s question, which was aimed at him indirectly. The question seemed to haunt him indirectly that he chose to pretend as if the narrator was not in the picture; thus, he stared in the narrator’s direction as if looking towards an empty space that had a voice. Self-denial is also evident when the narrator informs the husband the reason as to why she was travelling to China. The narrator was focused on giving his son quality education in China because she wanted her son to become a global citizen. However, it can be noticed that the husband is not moved with the fact that the wife is making that trip. This is self-denial because the husband does not want to give up his pleasures for the benefit of his wife and their son’s future.

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Another instance of self-denial depicts when the narrator had gotten a school for her daughter. The reader realizes that the narrator is the guardian in this case, and she owes care and security to her daughter. She goes against what a guardian is supposed to do as she pretends to allow her daughter to live in the dormitory for a month while she plans to enjoy singlehood and all the freedom it abounds.

Self-denial is clearly evident when the narrator accompanies Chae-geum to her father’s place. Chae-geum had indicated that her father and mother had stayed apart for more than five years, and she assumed that her father would be interested to hear something about her wife. This did not happen as Chae-geum’s father chose to narrate the story of his misery to the narrator. This annoyed Chae-geum who thought that her father should be concerned with how his wife was fairing on after the years that they have been apart. There is also self-denial on the side of Chae-geum’s mother. The novel reveals that she did not make an effort to visit her husband after he lost his legs. Besides, Chae-geum’s mother had skipped her son’s burial; he died in a car accident. This proves that the family was falling apart because they were people of the same family, and it is expected that they should take care of each other, which was not the case at all.

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The second novel written by Kim Young-Ha also reveals several instances of self-denial. From the story, a clear depiction of self-denial arises as the narrator passes through Insa-dong. The narrator passes through Insa-dong to check at music megastores and mesmerize over some portraits. The narrator indicates that he meets a group of people standing at Insa-dong who depict self-denial because of the way they lead their lives. The people seem to be unmoved by the fact that time exists, and that time is precious, which explains why they stand at the scene without feeling guilty or thinking about doing something else. The narrator indicates that the way the people stare at the portraits betrays their innermost desires because it seems they look at the portraits with no valid purpose. Self-denial is also evident from the stories that the narrator’s clients tell him. The narrator indicates that he hears stories ranging from a girl that has been violated by her father, a woman that is perpetuating infidelity on her boyfriend and a gay man almost been conscripted into the army. A father who rapes her daughter illustrates self-denial. This can be compared to self-denial in “Sea and Butterfly” by Kim In-Sook, whereby the narrator abdicates her parental role as a guardian and anticipates to spend time on her own. More so, it can be compared to Chae-geum’s mother who never visited her husband after he lost his leg and not making an effort to attend her son’s funeral after he died in a road accident. Thus, a father who rapes her own daughter sends a bad picture to the society because he makes the young to feel insecure.

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Another instance of self-denial is also shown by the narrator’s indication on how he carries out his work. We notice that the narrator allows his soon to be clients to tell their stories as he stays calm and judges which one of them to welcome to his services. This is self-denial because he does not advance his services as he ought to. He rather tries to find those that can easily be swayed, and he takes advantage of them from the tone in their voice and the story that they have to share. It is human nature to help one another and not leading each other astray, which is evident from the services he advances to the clients. Instead of providing his clients with viable advice, it can be noticed that he tries to justify them as they should consider suicide as an option. This can be compared to self-denial in “Sea and Butterfly” where people just stand and enjoy the scene of a man being executed by the police. The people in that case were inhumane as they enjoyed seeing the man been executed and buried like a dog instead of being against the act.

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An instance of self-denial can also been found in the case when the narrator considers himself a god. The narrator is of the opinion that two ways abound through which a person can become a god, and these include making a killing. This is self-denial because we know that God has more superpowers than just killing or giving life to a person. In addition, God also promotes self preservation, which should be condoned by all human beings. It is essential for human beings to take care of each other and not destroy each other, which makes the narrator’s claim that he makes himself a god through killing and creating absurd. This act of self-denial can be compared to the narrator’s husband in “Sea and Butterfly”, whereby the husband is reluctant to know about her wife’s itinerary considering that the wife was taking their daughter to a school in China, and the husband was totally unmoved by her wife’s comment concerning their travel.

Judith’s story that concerns two brothers referred to as C and K is another example of self denial in the novel. From Judith’s story, it can be realized that K had only come home after receiving news regarding his mother’s death. Even after making all that efforts, self-denial is still evident in his behavior because he does not go to his mother’s burial site. Instead, he opts to stay behind in C’s apartment with Judith, and they end up having sex in the living room while her mother’s portrait stares at them. In this case, he was mocking at his mother because he chooses not to go to her funeral and spend time with another woman. This has resemblance with Chae-geum’s behavior in “Sea and Butterfly” as she did not make any effort to go to her son’s funeral after he died in a road accident.











Furthermore, Judith and K’s behavior depicts self-denial. This is because they had gone to visit C in his house, and they did not respect C’s privacy. Readers are told that C busted them having sex in his living room, and they were unperturbed. Instead, K took his time to compose himself as he picked his clothes while Judith remained glued on the chair naked. This is not respectful to C who had hosted them as K went ahead to ask him why he was not coming into the house. This proves a lack of respect same as that of Chae-geum’s father who, after not seeing her wife for more than five years, still is not interested in her whereabouts and talks about himself endlessly.

Another form of self-denial is illustrated when C and Judith are caught in a snow storm. They are trapped from their residence, and the cold in the car leads them to having sex. There is self-denial on both of them because Judith is the first one that lured him to her. Raders are told that she grabbed his hand and forcefully placed it on her boobs. This is self-denial because she was a girlfriend to K who is C’s brother. On the other hand, C also depicts self-denial through his consenting to sleep with his brother’s girlfriend. This is not out rightly correct because society’s morals forbid. This act of self-denial can be compared with Chae-geum’s mother who sold her daughter to an older man. Both acts in this context comprise of the innocence of the other party, which has been betrayed.

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In conclusion, both “Sea and Butterfly” and “The Right to destroy myself” are novels that depict several instances of self-denial. The novels are written by Korean authors who try to stand out from the country’s common literature. Various instances of self-denial reveal from the novel and they can be tied together. For instance, the narrator’s self-denial in “Sea and Butterfly” depicts when she hears that Chae-geum was to visit Seoul where her mother was. She was unmoved the same way K was unmoved when she visited C’s place for her mother’s funeral. We notice that he ends up fooling around with another woman instead of attending her mother’s burial. Another resemblance between the two novels depicts when the narrator in “The right to destroy myself” indicates the stories that the customers relish him with. One of the stories concerns a girl been raped by his father. This resembles to self-denial in “Sea and Butterfly” where the narrator pretends to allow the daughter time to spend at the dormitory whereas she wanted time to herself. Generally, it can be asserted that the authors achieved in their use of self-denial themes in their works.

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