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Flashcards in Silence - Background Notes Deck (42):

What genre

historical fiction


Author name

Shusaku Endo


What occupation is the main characted

Jesuit Missionary


The persecution occured during the time of

Hidden Christians or Kakure Kirishitan


The time of Hidden Christians followed what historical event

The Shimabara Rebellion


What form does the book take

parts of written as a letter by the central character



a silent God who accompanies a believer in adversity; the silence of God in the midst of suffering


author was affected by what events in his own life

religious discrimination in Japan, racism in France, a bout of tuberculosis


Young Portugese Jesuit name

Sebastiao Rodregues based on the historical figure of Guiseppe Chiara


Why did Rodrigues go to Japan

ro succor the local Church and investigate reports that his mentor a Jesuit priest in Japan named Ferrara has committed apostasy


Half of the book is written as a journal of Rodrigues what is the other half

written in third person or in the letters of others associated with the narrative


how does the plot progress

relates the trials of Christains and the increasing hardship of Rodrigues


What year doe Rodrigues arrive with Garrpe



How do they find the local Christian population

drive underground


How does the government ferret out Christians

by making them trample on a fumie


what is a fumie

a crudely carved image of Christ


What happens to those who refuse to trample on the fumie

They are imprisoned and killed by anazuri which is being hung upside down over a pit and slowly bled


Rodrigues and Garrpe are eventually captured and forced to watch Christians lay down for their faith



There is no glory in the martyrdoms as Rodrigues imagined but rather

brutality and cruelty


Prior to the arrival of Rodrigues the officials attempted to force priests to renounce their faith by



Beginning with Fr. Ferraira the officials tortured

other Christians and made the priests watch telling them all they had to do was renounce their faith (IMPORTANT POINT AND DISTINCTION)


Rodrigues understands suffering or the sake of one's own faith but struggles over

whether it is self-centered and unmerciful to refuse to recant when doing so will end another's suffering (IMPORTANT)


What happens in the climatic moment

Rodrigues hears the moans of those who have recanted but are to remain in the pit until he tramples the image of Christ (IMPORTANT)


As Rodrigues looks at the fumie - who breaks the silence

CHRIST - "Trample, Trample! . Rodrigues obeys and the Christians are released


The novel is said to have "deep moral ambiguity" why?

the depiction of God who has chosen not to eliminate suffering but to suffer with humanity


Endo in another book says that the Japanese identify with Jesus as

one who suffers with us, and who allows for our weaknesses ---identifying less with God the Father and more the personality of Jesus


The Novelist Sought a Christianity That Speaks to the Japanese Soul... he used several analogies including a gardener and a tailor...recall these.

If a gardener were to uproot a Christian sapling from its Western soil in order to transplant it into Japan, would its branches still bear Christian fruit? If a tailor were to disassemble a Western suit in order to fashion a Japanese kimono, would it still be a suit?


In background, the book may or may not have mentioned how the Portugese ended up in Japan.

Europeans first set foot on Japanese soil in 1543 when a Portuguese trading vessel heading for China was blown off course and landed on the coast of Kyushu. Soon traders and merchants gained a foothold, and missionaries inevitably followed in their wake.


one of the leaders of the newly founded Society of Jesus, arrived in 1549, and within two years he won a thousand converts.

St. Francis Xavier, Japan is “the delight of my heart,” he declared, “the country in the Orient most suited to Christianity.”


After Xavier, the local barons encouraged/discouraged the Christians.

Encouraged ..... by local daimyo, or barons, who enlisted the support of Christians in their struggles for political control, the ranks of the believers swelled over the next 40 years to roughly a quarter million.


By the end of the century, what further threatened the stability of a country already torn apart by the warring daimyo.

quarreling missionaries from England, Holland, Spain, and Portugal


In 1587, the Jesuits were ordered to depart, and 10 years later 26 Christians, including six Franciscan missionaries, were crucified at ....

Nagasaki. By 1603, when the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu unified the country, the persecution of Christians began in earnest.


In 1614, the shogun expelled all Christian missionaries and issued an edict requiring all Japanese to register as what?



Hunted down by Japanese inquisitors, nearly 6,000 of the remaining Christians were tortured and killed. These were the martyrs, whose blood, as the early church father Tertullian once put it, was the what?

“seed of the church.”


How did one survive?

Th e survivors — the more, or less, fortunate — were forced to renounce their faith by treading upon a fumie, a bronze icon that bore the image of Christ on the cross. These survivors were the apostates, the fallen ones.


Was the author of the novel Catholic?

The Christian faith never did rest easily on Endo’s shoulders. Ever since his baptism at the age of 11 at the behest of his mother, Endo often spoke of a faith as awkward as a forced marriage, as uncomfortable as a Western suit of clothes. “This clothing did not suit me,” he later wrote. “The clothes and my body were not made for each other.”

Whether studying French Catholic novelists at Keio University in the late 1940s or traveling to France in 1950 to seek out the roots of his faith, Endo was always a stranger in a foreign land. Singled out by Japan for his belief and by France for his race, he experienced rejection at every turn. To make matters worse, he contracted tuberculosis while abroad and had a lung removed. In an ensuing crisis of faith, it seemed to him as if Christianity itself had made him ill


Only upon returning to his country by way of the Holy Land did he discover, as he would write in his popular Life of Jesus (1973), a Jesus as scorned, rejected, and betrayed as he. Only then did he discover an alternative to the lofty cathedrals and the militant triumphalism of Western Christianity. And only then did he discover his life’s quest: the search for a compassionate Christian faith that might take root in the Japanese soil. HOW DOES SILENCE MEET THIS GOAL?

Widely regarded as Endo’s supreme achievement, Silence tells the story of this era and of this quest. It tells of Sebastian Rodrigues’ arduous journey halfway around the world to Japan in the 1630s, in order to track down a rumor that his beloved mentor Father Christovao Ferreira had abandoned his faith.


Smuggled into the island nation with the help of a cringing apostate named Smuggled into the island nation with the help of a cringing apostate named Kichijiro, Rodrigues and a fellow priest are sheltered in a mountain hut by Japanese-Christian villagers on the sea coast.

Kichijiro, Rodrigues and a fellow priest are sheltered in a mountain hut by Japanese-Christian villagers on the sea coast.


In a series of letters brimming with what does Rodrigues write his superiors?

with confidence and self-assurance, Rodrigues writes to his superiors of the heroic work of Christ that he has been privileged to accomplish: “After Sunday Mass for the first time I intoned and recited the prayers in Japanese with the people. … As I speak there often arises in my mind the face of one who preached the Sermon on the Mount; and I imagine the people who sat or knelt fascinated by his words.”


But if Rodrigues is a Christ-figure, Kichijiro is his ....

Judas, betraying him to the shogunal authorities for a handful of coins. When the captured priest is brought down to the sea coast and then taken to Nagasaki, the narrative shifts from first to third person, catching Rodrigues in the crosshairs of the author’s omniscient perspective. Helpless to avert the martyrdom of his fellows, he strains to hear the voice of God, still silent as Japanese Christians are drowned in the leaden-gray, murderous sea. “He had come to this country to lay down his life for other men,” he thinks about himself, “but instead … the Japanese were laying down their lives one by one for him.”


Braced for martyrdom, riding astride a donkey, much as his Lord had ridden into Jerusalem, Rodrigues makes his way into Nagasaki, where he is thrown into a dark prison cell. Here he finally meets

his former teacher and present tormentor, the apostate priest Ferreira, whose task it is to persuade Rodrigues to tread upon the fumie as well. “This country is a swamp,” says Ferreira. “In time you will come to see that for yourself. This country is a more terrible swamp than you can imagine. Whenever you plant a sapling in this swamp the roots begin to rot, the leaves grow yellow and wither. And we have planted the sapling of Christianity in this swamp.”


Silence is an extraordinarily haunting novel. Although it is never a comfortable read, in its deceptive simplicity it is as stark and unyielding, as elegant and lean as the lines of a Japanese print. Without ever moralizing, it is an intensely moral book as well. And, like all great works of literature, it hovers in a middle ground HOW?,

, taut with expectation, caught in the tension between West and East, answer and question, logic and intuition, strength and weakness, hope and loss. It is, in short, a novel for most of us, most of the time, as we wend our way between heaven and earth with our longing souls and our feet of clay