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A Geisha’S Struggle For Happiness

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A Geisha’s Struggle

For Happiness

“We human beings are only a part of something very much larger. When we walk along, we may crush a beetle or simply cause a change in the air so that a fly ends up where it might never have gone otherwise. And if we think of the same example but with ourselves in the role of the insect, and the larger universe in the role we’ve just played, it’s perfectly clear that we’re affected every day by forces over which we have no more control than the poor beetle has over our gigantic foot as it descends upon it. What are we to do? We must use whatever methods we can to understand the movement of the universe around us and time our actions so that we are not fighting the currents, but moving with them.”

-Author Golden

Eric Lemaire


English Comp II

Professor Everest

The geisha world has been a mystery to those outside the entourage for as long as okia houses have been around. In Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha, a heartfelt and powerful story is told on how an unusually beautiful nine-year-old girl from an impoverished fishing family around the mid 1910’s finds herself torn apart from her family members in the blink of an eye and how she is taken to Kyoto and sold into slavery to a geisha house. The lost of her father, mother, and sister amounts to only a fraction of the pain she is subjected to as she is repeatedly faced with the loss of identity and abandonment of her life, dreams, and loved ones over the course of her life. Poor Chiyo finds herself in a state of hopelessness and one day she is treated with the deepest form of kindness by an elderly man who was accompanied by a geisha. From that day forward, young Chiyo devotes every ounce of energy she possessed in becoming a geisha and perhaps one day meeting this kind stranger yet once again in hopes of living out the remaining of her life happy. This young girl is forced to reinvent and refine her image as to become a desirable and popular geisha in the district of Gion. Throughout the years of working up the hierarchal ladder at the okia, she finds herself trying to balance two opposing lives but unfortunately both worlds cannot coexist for personal interest and love has been taught to be nothing but a mere fairytale in the eyes of geisha. Thus she battles with the inner conflict of being true to herself, seeking happiness, and still managing to remain honorable to the rules of being not only a geisha but one of the most popular and desired geisha in Gion. This is merely a story of an on-going battle for freedom and love.

The female protagonist is first introduced as Chiyo and is latter renamed Sayuri when she is given the opportunity to become an apprentice geisha or meiko in her latter years. In the beginning she is portrayed as a clever, sensitive, witty, and pretty daughter of a fisherman and his dying wife in a poor and remote town in Japan. Having similar qualities with her mother, she is the very antithesis of her foolish and “plain” older sister Satsu. She possessed a great deal of water in her personality, which made her easy to get along with. Her sister on the other hand clearly took after their father having a strong amount of wood in her personality and being quite stern and stubborn. Chiyo never had much growing up but she did at least have her loving family by her side. Although young, Chiyo did begin to grasp the idea that her mother’s illness was a terminal one and that she would not be with her for long. Chiyo’s father was a feeble old man and was also aware that he had little time left on this earth. Trying to secure his daughters future, he decided to sell them to a wealthy fish factory owner. Chiyo latter was separated from her sister and forced to live and work at a local geisha house in the city of Gion. From that day on, poor Chiyo found herself living a life of servitude. After a few months Chiyo had gotten used to her routine. She tried her best not to get into trouble but antagonist Hatsumomo threatened by Chiyo’s beauty vowed to make her already miserable life even worst to ensure that she would never become a geisha. All this was done out of fear that Chiyo would one day steal Hatsumomo’s spotlight. Chiyo’s life had become a monotonous series of pointless events for she felt as if her life could not worsen in any way.

From Chiyo’s very first arrival, she was immediately befriended by Pumpkin, another servant or maid about the same age as her also destined to be a Geisha. Pumpkin watched out for Chiyo and made sure she was on the right track. A few months went by and Hatsumomo confessed that she knew the whereabouts of Chiyo’s sister Satsu and that she had come looking for her. This was months ago. In an act of desperation and determined to see her sister again, Chiyo made a promise to Hatsumomo that she would do exactly as she wished from that point on in exchange for knowledge on her sister’s location. Hatsumomo of course repeatedly abuses her power and leverage over Chiyo to destroy her career before it ever began. In one scenario, Hatsumomo comes home drunk from a night out and confiscates Mameha’s (her rival Geisha’s) most treasured Kimono. She then signals Chiyo to come over and drives her hand with a paintbrush all around the Kimono, ruining it. Chiyo is of course blamed for this and a debt was added to her. With time, Chiyo is told on where to find her sister and manages to get away from the okia long enough to find her. Her sister, at the time thirteen was forced to work as a prostitute. Chiyo didn’t understand this of course but she knew for sure that her sister’s living condition and lifestyle was by far worst than hers. They both agreed to meet up near a lake not to far from the okia in a few days in order to permanently escape what has grown to become their lives.

Chiyo made sure not to get into any trouble until that very day she would be free at last. The night she was supposed to escape she went to bed early but did not fall asleep. She laid on her bed motionless awaiting the other maids to retreat to their own beds as well. As soon as it was quiet enough and as soon as Chiyo was certain everyone was fast asleep, she got up and quickly made her way to the roof of the okia. Unfortunately she slipped off the roof and woke up on a mat to a doctor attending to her injuries with Mother (the owner



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