‘No Longer Human’ is the second best selling Japanese novel of all time, it is also Dazai’s masterpiece. These factors are enough to make this book worth reading. This said there is a lot more to this book than international accord.
It starts with the introduction describing three different pictures of a boy. The boy changes a lot with each picture, it’s hard to believe he is the same person. These pictures set the stage for the book that follows.
Basics of The Story
The book is only four chapters and is about a boy named Oba. In the beginning, we learn he is a smart child. We also learn that he was abused by a maid in his home.
As he gets older he learns he shouldn’t say anything and always accept what is given to him. Rather than appear smart, he decides it will be easier to be a comedian. He does this because he thinks it will cause him less trouble.
At one point, a classmate notices that Obe falls on purpose, and is only pretending to be incapable. Because of this, Obe decides he must befriend the boy so his secret can be kept.
We learn Obe likes to draw and it is his dream to do drawings. He never shows his work to anyone but his only friend.
Time passes and he grows older. He goes to university in Tokyo. There he meets and befriends an art student. This new friend introduces him to all sorts of things he hasn’t done or seen before. He picks up drinking and his school suffers.
From this point on he becomes an alcoholic. He later meets a woman who helps him get a job as a drawer for a magazine. He finds some success, but his drinking becomes a problem again, and his life starts to fall apart.
From then on many bad things happen to him. The pinnacle of which, he tries to kill himself unsuccessfully.
Perception vs Reality
At the end of the book, we learn that the story is a collection of journals that was given to the author. He received them from a barkeeper who had received them from an anonymous source.
The barkeeper talks about Oba and thinks he is the source of the journals. She also says that he wasn’t at all like he described. In fact, he was the opposite, a very kind and friendly man.
This ending is what makes the book amazing. It changes your whole perspective of what actually happens in the story.
The book seems to be about the horrible life of a bad person. In this sense it is depressing, Oba is without a doubt a depressed. But this way of looking at it is dishonest because it doesn’t account for what other people see or know.
How About Us
This story shows the difference between what we think of ourselves and what the rest of the world sees. It also shows how our minds can get locked into thoughts and repeat them.
This isn’t to say that people don’t have real problems. But it is something to be aware of. The potential here is that we over think things and don’t see ourselves for who we are.
It could be that the world thinks we are a great person and our friends and family are happy with who we are. With this perspective, the negativity is only in our heads.
It is not always the case that our problems are this simple. But it is possible that this could explain part of them.
Rather than being like Obe, try to see yourself as the person that everyone else sees and respects you as.