Essay, Research Paper
English I.S.U-The Pact and Memoirs of a Geisha
In the novels The Pact, by Jodi Piocoult and Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden there is a strong reflection of life and its negative aspects. Not only do both novels involve a female who?s life is controlled by those around her, but the girls are also controlled by a desired conception of themselves that they feel they have to achieve. The predominant ideas that exist in both works are those concerned with ones personal will to live a certain way and to achieve goals that are believed to grant success. Both stories involve a female who, through out her life, endures the pain that sometimes comes with the bleak reality of our world. The childhood traumas and the severe pressure exerted upon each of the woman causes them to suffer; However Sayuri, although, she is deprived of her individual freedom, uses her situation to its full potential where as Emily can not deal with the pain and has a mental breakdown.
Both Sayuri, in Memoirs of a Geisha and Emily in The Pact suffer through a childhood trauma. Sayuri, begins her life in the small town of Yoroido, Japan, where she lives with her family and knows herself at this time, as Chiyo; her name does not change to Sayuri until years later. Sayuri is dealing with the deterioration of her mother who is ill with cancer, and is preparing for her death, while her father is a quiet, distant man who neither knows Sayuri or her sister, Satsu. It isone afternoon when her father, with out confronting his wife or children makes a deal with a significant man to sell his children. Sayuri is taken to see a lady who inspects her in appalling ways to find out if she is suitable to be sold. Sayuri soon finds herself on a train leaving Yoroido, where she will be separated from her entire family and transported to a far town called Gion. Years later, while being treated as a slave in an Okiya, a Japanese Geisha house in Japan, Sayuri is still traumatised by what happened to her. ? I couldn?t stop thinking about Mr. Tanaka. He had taken me from my mother and father and sold me for slavery. He sold my sister to something even worse? (Golden, 82). Sayuri never sees her parents again, for she receives a letter some time after she had been taken informing her that her parents had past away. Sayuri is left in an unfamiliar world alone, and sees no hope for a brighter future. ?It would have been enough to know that my father had died, or that my mother had died. But to learn in a single moment that both my mother and father had died and left me and that my sister too was lost to me forever?at once my mind felt like a broken vase that would not stand. I was lost even with in the room around me? (Golden,103). With these experiences, it makes it difficult for Sayuri to see anything positive in a life that has only offered her sorrow. Emily Gold in The Pact also under goes a devastating childhood experience. When Emily is very young, she is raped by an employee of Macdonald?s restaurant when she goes to use the bathroom there one afternoon. Emily never speaks a word of this incident to anyone. As hard as she tries to forget about this occurrence, and put it behind her, it is too difficult. The memories of the rape haunt her when she is making love to her boyfriend, Chris. Instead of her seeing her lover?s hands touching her, she envisions the dirty paws of the man that abused her years ago. ?Everything was sharper. She could smell his black breath, feel the course hairs on the back of his hand, see her own face staring back at her. She was wearing something with an elastic waist; it snapped back against her hips. There were the familiar sensations of his fingernails scratching at her. His palms grinding up against her nipples, the burning between her legs. But this time there was more. The droning whirr of what?-bees? The tang of disinfectant. And the unmistakable scent of a kitchen, of something being fried in grease? (Picoult, 175). Emily has visions of the rape in her dreams and in reality. This makes her feel dirty and worthless and she begins to wonder why she can?t feel secure with anyone, including her own boyfriend, the guy she grew up with. Because of this traumatising experience, Emily has lost her trust in people and is now self conscious and afraid to be touched by anyone else. It is manifest that Emily and Sayuri experience some brutal incidents in their childhood, and also clear that these occurrences effect them still years later.
Both Emily and Chiyo are pressured and controlled through out their life by those around them and by their own personal ideas of life. When Sayuri is sent to live at the Okiya, it is made clear to her that the only way she will be successful in life is if she becomes a well-known Geisha. If she does not succeed , her life is doomed. As soon as she arrives at the Okiya, it is made quite clear what is expected of her. ?If you work very hard, and obey everyone around you, you?ll grow up to be a geisha yourself one day. But you won?t make it as far as next week unless you listen to mother and I very closely, and do exactly as you are expected to do? (Golden, 40). At this point, all of the doors of dream and opportunity are closed to Sayuri as she is forced into something, that she does not particularly want to do, but would prefer it to being a slave for the rest of her life. In Memoirs of a Geisha, the world that is entered is one where appearances are paramount; where a girl?s virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where woman are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. Sayuri?s life, when she is taken from Yoroido to Gion went through the dramatic change of belonging to her, to being owned by those around her who are more powerful in terms of wealth and status. As Sayuri gradually becomes more successful as a geisha, she no longer has control over, even, her own identification. Mahema, an experienced geisha, becomes her geisha sister. This is when Chiyo?s name is officially changed to Sayuri. As Sayuri gets older, she is told that it is time to lose her virginity. Love, in her case is not an issue, but it is the man who pays the most amount of money, that will take away her innocence forever. Instead of Sayuri ever getting married, she will be assigned to a danna, a man who will support her financially. Once Sayuri is linked with her danna, there forms a karmic bond that will last a lifetime. Although Sayuri dreams of being together with a man she has loved for years, she is forced to be under the control of Nobu, a wealthy businessman. Sayuri, once with him, is never allowed to be with anyone else. When Sayuri express her feelings to Mahema that she wants more than kindness out of the man she is going to spend the rest of her life with, Mahema immediately reprimands her. ?I thought we all wanted kindness. Perhaps what you mean is that you want something more than kindness. And that is something you are in no position to ask? (Golden, 296). Sayuri feels the sorrow when Mahema explains this to her. She can not imagine spending the rest of her life with someone she has no feelings for. Sayuri explains to Mahema that there are things she has always dreamed about, and Mahema’s response upsets Sayuri further. ?You?re afraid that after Nobu has touched you, all you?re dreams can never be? Really Sayuri, what did you think life as a Geisha would be like? We don?t become geisha so our lives will be satisfying. We become geisha because we have no other choice?Young girls hope all sorts of foolish things, Sayuri. Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear too many of them. When the get older, they look silly wearing even one? (Golden, 297). Through Sayuri?s life as a geisha, she is unable to make the decision who she will lose her virginity to, she is unable to even approach the man she loves let alone be with him, and her opportunities and chances for accomplishing her dreams are diminished into nothing. ? The only choice I can ever make is what kimono I will wear? (Golden, 313). Sayuri spends her life in Gion, serving for wealthy men, and practising to be, how others want her to be. Emily in The Pact is also controlled by those around her, and by a perception of herself that she feels she must portray. Through out Emily?s life, both her and Chris?s parents force the idea the one day Chris and Emily will be together, get married and have children. Emily knows nothing different than to be with Chris, because that is what everyone wants. ?It was clear that Chris loved her; of course he?d want to make love to her. And certainly it was right-for God?s sake, she?d been hearing her name linked to Chris?s since before she could speak? (Picoult, 141). Emily is so used to being told that her and Chris aregoing to end up together, it is as if her believing anything else is wrong. Emily begins feeling, as their relationship becomes more serious, that what she and Chris has doesn?t feel quite right. This frightens Emily, because she is violating the perception that everyone has created for her. If she isn?t with Chris, she will disappoint everyone. When Emily becomes pregnant, everything good starts to disintegrate. Emily begins to view herself as a failure. ?She had spent her entire life being what everybody else had always wanted her to be. The perfect daughter, the budding artist, the best friend, the first love. She had been so busy meeting everyone else?s expectations, in fact, that it had taken her years to remember exactly why it was all one big farce. She was not perfect, far from it, and what you saw outside was not what you were really getting. Deep down she was dirty, and this was the kind of thing that happened to girls like her? (Picoult, 202). The fact that Emily gets pregnant destroys her. She is unable to tell even Chris who is the father in fear of what her might think of her. She is unable to tell her parents, because she does not want to break the image they have of her.
Consequently, all the pressure and control deprives Sayuri of her individual freedom. However, she is still able to use her situation to its full potential. Emily, on the other hand, can not deal with such pain and has a mental breakdown, which in the end leads to suicide. As soon as Sayuri enters Gion she has two choices: to work hard to become a successful Geisha, or not to work hard, and suffer. She chooses to work hard to be successful. Despite this choice, Sayuri?s life does not belong to her anymore. She will do what she is told by those around her. And she will work not to attain love, or satisfaction, but to attain money. At the beginning of the novel, Sayuri is looking back at her life when she begins her story. She comments in the opening paragraph: ?The truth is, that the afternoon when I met Mr. Tanaka Ichiro really was the best and the worst afternoon of my life? (Golden, 1). Because Sayuri becomes a geisha, she learned that life has to offer some good things, but also a lot of bad things. Through this she learned to appreciate the wonderful things that much more. Although Sayuri never doesget to be with the Chairman, the man she wants to be with, she thanks him for what he gave her. ?I wasn?t thanking him for the coin, or even for stopping to help me. I was thanking him for?well, for showing me that something besides cruelty could be found in this world? (Golden, 114). Although Sayuri goes through unimaginable emotional pain, she is still able to hold on to the pleasant things she can find, and make the best of them. Sayuri looks at her options and realizes they are slim, and decides to make the best of herself with what she has. ?You must be very proud, Mrs. Nitta, of how well your daughter is doing. Her fortunes have surpassed expectations! Wouldn?t you agree?? (Golden, 297.) Sayuri works so hard to become successful, that she surprises even the bitter, strict mother of the Okiya. Sayuri gains so much respect, that she sees decisions being left to be made by herself, instead of someone else. The years when Sayuri lives in Gion, are the years of the great depression, followed by the Second World War. It is clear that many suffered in Japan. If Sayuri had not been taken from her poor town in Yoriodo, she would have died. Gion, however, is one city, that for the most part, in the midst of all the traumas, and misery, still has some light shine on it. ?While most Japanese lived in the dark valley through all the 1930?s, in Gion, we were still warmed by the sun? (Golden, 333). Although, when Sayuri is taken away from her home town, she lost her whole family, and her entire childhood, the move entitled her to many luxuries and experiences she would never of been able to endure if she had still lived in Yoroido. Becoming a geisha, in one way closes up all of Sayuri?s opportunities, but on the other hand, opened up an entire world of experiences and visions that would change her life. It is clear that Sayuri in the end prospers from all the suffering she goes through. For Emily, the pain is too hard to deal with and her confidence is too low, she simply can not handle it, and she eventually ends up killing herself. Emily takes one look at herself, and sees how her life is treating her, and ultimately thinks that being dead would be better than being alive. Emily is too confused with in herself to deal with these problems. She is unaccustomed and unprepared for change due to the fact that she has such a set vision of herself that she must display. When she realizes that life is not always how you plan it to be, she does not know what to do. Before Emily becomes pregnant, she expresses her fear of change. ?I wish things could stay like this?like now?forever? (Picoult, 209). Death seems to totally preoccupy Emily. ?He realizes that this was Emily now, that the only time she seemed happy was when she was planning the way she would die? (Picoult, 281.) Life is no longer something Emily enjoyed. To her, it is an annoying phenomenon that only offers her problems. Her depression seems to be noticed by others around her, as if she is silently letting out a call for help. Emily paints a picture of a free form skull, with storm-clouded eye-sockets and a lolling tongue. She entitles it ?self-portrait.? It is evident that Emily?s vision of herself is one of a girl who has failed and sunk to the darkest failures possible. She sees herself as a mentally dead person, whose body is still participating in a futile life. Emily eventually ends up killing herself in desperation for some peace and hapiness, and in an escape from her problems. Sayuri and Emily are both forced to endure ruthless and painful circumstances for a time in their life. Sayuri, although often unhappy, deals with her struggle and becomes a better person because of it. Emily finds her life too distressing and unbearable and gives up trying to improve her life.
Both works are very similar in that both women suffered childhood traumas. Sayuri is taken away from her family, and sold. Emily goes through the terrible experience of being raped. At a young age both girls experience negative circumstances, thereby altering their view of life. Both Sayuri and Emily are also controlled by others and by a perception of themselves. Sayuri isunable to make any of her own decisions, until she becomes one of the most successful geisha in the history of Japan. Up until then, those around her control her every move, and make all of her decisions. Emily is pressured and controlled in that everyone has made for her a pathway through life, in which she is to walk. She has a perfect image laid out for her. When Emily violates this image by getting pregnant, and by continuing to let the haunting memories of rape destroy her relationship with Chris, she is scared, and feels she is failing. Emily suffers a mental breakdown. The contrast between the two stories is evident: Sayuri deals with her situation, by taken advantage of the positive opportunities she has, she makes the decision to become a geisha. She sees all of the negative aspects, yet does not let go of the positive ones. Emily, on the contrary, lets her unpleasant experiences be a cause for her destruction, instead of making her stronger. The Pact and Memoirs of a Geisha are both worth while novels that allow us to become aware of reality. They are good comparable novels because we can see one alternative of dealing with life?s conflicts, which is ending them by ultimately ridding yourself of existence, or the other alternative, the one Sayuri took, which is realizing what positive things life still has to offer in a time when suffering is weighing you down.