Recently, our world has been full of teenager news due to recent teenage suicides because of school bullying. Last December, a high school girl committed suicide by jumping off a building in Daejun. She left a suicide note explaining details of what she had gone through.
Not long after, another junior high boy jumped to his death from a 7th floor building in Daegu. He left a four page long letter about the bullying he had been put through in his own house. It was beyond simple ostracizing, even hard to believe he was tortured with water, and was forced to eat food off the floor. The seriousness of bullying is becoming worse. Bullying has been rising steadily and the methods have become more brutal.
Due to the recent events of bullying, we chose to talk about the book Knife, which will help us to promote awareness of bullying.
Knife is a work by a Japanese writer Sigematu Kiyoshi. He is the one who has written about the issue of Bullying, and Knife is his collection of short stories that are divided into 5 parts. All of the stories cover the same subject, but each story shows the problems of bullying in different ways. It is depicted from different point of views like the perpetrator, victim, victim’s parents and the bully’s parents.
“Evisu, My Friend” is a story about the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim of bullying. The main character, Hiroshi is an elementary school student who tries to be friends with Evisu who just transferred from Tokyo. Evisu, who has a big frame, bullies Hiroshi and the bullying becomes worse day-by-day. He lacks the skill at expressing affection and can only show his affection through bullying and that is why he bullies Hiroshi. The story shows problems among teenagers who can’t express themselves the correct way.
“Knife” is a story about a father who has a son who is ostracized. Shinji who is the only son, has the leadership ability to become a sub captain of a soccer team, but he is ostracized. His father went to see Shinji’s teacher, but the teacher only said ‘Don’t worry. Shinji will be able to overcome trials by himself since he is an active student.’ However, that didn’t help Shinji and his father. The father was determined to take matters into his own hands and decided that he would kill the students who bullied his son. When he finally found the bullies, however, he could not do anything at all. This showed the mentality of Shinji’s father, as he too could not do anything because he was also a weaker link in society.
“Crocodile and Outcast” is a story about girls who consider bullying as a game, and it shows a victim’s experiences. The main character is a popular junior high girl, Miki and shows how she degenerated into an outcast overnight. Even though Miki was hazed in school she always laughed and smiled in front of her parents as if nothing had happened in her life. At school, she also fought back her tears and told her teachers and friends that there was nothing to worry about. This story shows the true mind of victims who conceal their true emotions in order to not worry others.
“Good Day to Catch Ball” is a story of a person witnessing another being hazed, told in a third person perspective. Yoshimi, with her arms folded, looks at Daiske as she is treated as an outcast. The author points out that bullying can also be committed by not doing anything when others are in need of help. “…I’m a bystander. I look on with folded arms when attackers treat Daiske as an outcast. I mutter to myself ‘my goodness,’ ’it’s not fair,’ but simply don’t do anything.”
Finally, “My Bitter-Sweet House” portrays the adult society, in which school parents believe that a teacher is harassing students and they give the teacher the cold shoulder. It describes adults’ selfishness and cruelty when it comes to the issue of raising children.
Knife is not just a book but also our own stories. In today’s society, there is an increase in geocentricism and selfishness and bullying has gotten worse; bullying is being committed not only among adolescents but also among adults. We may not be a victim or a perpetrator but perhaps a bystander or a decoy. It applies to us all. We like to think that bullying is other peoples’ problems, not ours. We might even think that it’s natural that it happens because some people just have it coming. But it is not only about people who are directly involved with bullying. Society needs to take charge and prevent these crimes from happening.
Kiyoshi doesn’t simply conclude that bullying is bad, nor he does not tell us how to overcome this problem. The book just hopes that we find this agonizing and open up our minds about bullying. After reading this book, I came to believe that rather than trying to find a way to solve it all at once, we just need to be more aware of what is happening around us.
Other novels about bullying
Elegant lie by Kim Rier-Ryoung
- The protagonist Man-Ji puts the pieces of clues together that her 14-year-old sister left behind before she committed suicide. This novel deals with problems like bullying, suicide, and friendship. But, instead of easily labeling attacker and victim, the author digs into the other side of human relations and reveals pity towards the human race. The book sends a message that our words can be fatal and can even result in a person’s death, but it can also save a person’s life.
Sorry, Suika by Hayashi Miki
- 14-year-old girl, Suika’s daily life turns into nightmare because of Youkko’s powerful group in her class. Youkko’s group starts to bully the silent and unobserved Chika just because they are bored. At first it was just for fun, but as time goes by it becomes more atrocious and violent. Eventually, Suika gives Chika a helping hand, but she then realizes that she became the new target and falls into despair. Finally, Suika jumps from a window and commits suicide. At that time, her body and soul are divided. By a girl’s keen experience, we can feel victim’s mental state.
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