Importance Of Faith And History In The Novel Silence

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In 17th Century Japan, Christians were beaten, mocked, scorned, and murdered for their faith. For us as Americans, we do not have to worry about being killed or beaten for our faith due to the First Amendment. In the novel Silence by Shūsaku Endō, he addresses the struggles and journeys of Christians in Asia. The characters in the story will try to find their mentor who was taken to a prison camp where these torturing would occur.

The main characters, Sebastian Rodrigues, Juan De Santa Marta, and Francis Grappe were the men who set out to find their leader Christovao Fierreria. Before the men set out they must get permission from the priest Father Valignano. He was very skeptical on sending these men out on this dangerous journey because he does not want them to be killed in the process. The men are going into uncharted territory on their journey and are in search of a guide who is familiar with Japan and had a ship. The men stumble upon a drunken man named Kichijiro; Kichijiro tells the men he is a Christian, but Rodrigues is very skeptical and does not believe him. Since the men need a guide, they decide to bring him along for the secret mission. They soon find out he has experienced the torture of Christians in Japan and has shared some of his experiences. The men eventually set out on their journey and Santa Marta suddenly becomes ill with malaria.

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On their journey to Japan, the men encountered many things such as; rough seas, storms, hunger, and thirst. The men knew that this would be a tough journey and many people have not made it through. With their faith in God, the men believed that He would deliver them through the storms and other elements. Through the storms, the men arrived in Japan and Kichijiro shows them around and they greet villagers of the city. The men begin their missionary journey by holding nightly masses, and taking confessions. Another village hears of the men coming to surrounding villages and they ask Kichijiro and the men come baptize and preach in Goto, a village nearby, and the men do so. When Rodrigues returns to the first village, he is immediately forced to flee. He sees on the hill guards searching for the men and the guards took two men and Kichijiro. They were going to be taken back to Nagasaki for questioning then Kichijiro renounces his faith and declares that he is not a Christian. He is set free from being captured and is told to not be apostatizing anymore.

The men decide to leave Tomogi and go their separate ways in fear of being arrested. The men board a rowboat and set out in different directions to go find new places to minister. Rodrigues arrives at an abandoned village and continues his journey through the wood and finds Kichijiro. He is still skeptical of him due to what has just happened; then ends up being arrested only for Kichijiro to receive a ransom for the capturing of him. While in prison, he prays with other Japanese Christians and has a sense of security ministering in prison. As his time in prison prolongs, he is continuously questioned to apostatize by Lord of Chikugo. Rodrigues does not give into renouncing his faith, but he finds out Father Fierreria apostatized. Kichijiro comes to apologize to Rodrigues and just assumes his words are empty sentences and ignores him. Lord Chikugo plots to break Rodrigues and leads him to a man, who turns out to be Grappe. Lord Chikugo asks Grappe to renounce his faith while Rodrigues is yelling for him to cave in. Grappe does not renounce his faith and all Rodrigues can do is watch in fear.

Lord Chikugo then takes Rodrigues to see Father Ferreira and sees him writing books for the Japanese. Rodrigues believed that Ferreira was making excuses in order to justify his behavior. After refusing to apostatize, he is escorted to a jail cell, and by now Rodrigues is begging to be killed . He is then visited by Ferreira and tells him two things, first, that snoring, is the crying of Christians being beaten in the pit, and second, that he had renounced his faith because God was silent while he prayed sitting in jail while Christians suffered. Rodrigues decides to renounce his faith and yields the consequences of his decision. He goes by a new name and they call him Apostate Paul.

Rodriguez now lives in Japan and works for Lord Chikugo. If he wants to leave the house, he must gain permission from Lord Chikugo. He casually sees Ferreira around the village and has a strong hatred for him. He is angry with Fierreria because he convinced him to renounce his faith when God was silent.

I believe that this novel depicts religious discrimination very well. The book is very raw and real about how Christians were tortured in the 17th century. Jesuit missionaries went to Japan in order to spread their Christian faith. In the beginning these missions went well, with thousands, converting to Christianity. However, over time their presence turned hostile , as they were seen as outsiders interested in changing Japan’s culture. As a result, Christian missionaries began to sneak into Japan. This led to the elimination of many Japanese Christians, and Jesuit missionaries. Shusaku Endo illustrates the discrimination, and suffering many Christians endured in Japan during this period.

I believe that the bravery of these men may have not started a revolution, then, but they laid a small foundation for religious freedom. In America, we have the First Amendment that gives us the freedom of religion. As Christians, we are faced with persecution today; it may not be as severe as it was in the 17th century, but it is stated in the Bible we will face persecution. Unlike Rodrigues, if we are faced with persecution we ought to stand firm in our faith. The persecution we face on earth is only building up treasures in heaven.

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Importance Of Faith And History In The Novel Silence. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 19, 2024, from
“Importance Of Faith And History In The Novel Silence.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022,
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