Table of Contents
The writer narrates a story about a man called Bird. His child is born with a brain disorder called Hernia. When the doctors discover the abnormality, their advice is that the child should be let to die. They contemplate feeding the child with sugar and water as an alternative to milk. Meanwhile as Bird waits for his son to die, he keeps a mistress on the side The title of this book is relevant as what is included in the body of the story discusses personal matters. In addition, the opening paragraph is very effective. It introduces what the reader should expect within the story. It prepares the reader for the story that follows. The author writes the story in a direct, shameless and frank prose.
The question that the writer is interested in tackling is difficult and complex. However, it is a subject, which is universal because many people from diverse parts of the globe face similar situations every now and then. The matter in hand is how to responds when you have an abnormal child. Many people also have antisocial tendencies like the protagonist. Bird who is the father of the abnormal child is also irresponsible and immoral. When he is faced with this challenge, he “cast himself adrift on a sea of whisky like a besotted Robinson Crusoe.” He drinks whiskey on daily basis. One may wonder whether he is trying to escape from the overwhelming responsibility of parenthood. He thinks that this might somehow solve the problem. The book is about a man who struggles with negative feelings such as shame and fear because he has fathered an abnormal child. The plot is not is portrayed clearly. The development flows; this is a vital element in any all-successful narration. It reads as if the author is narrating his own experience within the story. He flashed forwarded his experience to the end of the story. It is actually a personal matter.
The characters appear real hence enhances one’s ability to understand the story. Bird, is only 27 years old and faces personal crisis with the prospects of living his entire life with an abnormal infant. As he struggles with various options before him, his past rises up and reveals itself like a nightmare of self-deceit. The author presents the antagonist in an honest manner that one may wonders whether he is a hero or antihero. The clever construction of the play makes it “a personal matter”. The author shows his skills in use of clever dialogues and epigrams. Other styles that the author has employed are the use of social drama, use of gentle parody and melodrama.
Critics argue that the author wrote in order to challenge certain ideas that existed in society. The story is a subversion of scientific ideas about how the universe operates. One of the questions that the story leaves in the minds of readers is “it right to kill a child because he is abnormal?” Newton stated that the law of cause and effect governs the universe. The Newtonian cosmos is awesome and beautiful, but it denies us the sense of wonder of the small events that occurs in our everyday life. Our big dreams can deny us the opportunity to relate to the other important issues in life. Bird is contemplating killing his child so that he can pursue his dreams. Is this the right thing to do? Bird through the assistance of his old girlfriend Himiko, attempts to get rid of the child so that they can achieve their lifetime dream of visiting Africa together. They take the child out of the hospital he was initially admitted in and take it to some Quack doctor. Another characteristic that is evident of Bird is that of an alcoholic. Although it is out of irresponsibility, Bird uses alcohol inappropriately. At one instance, Bird is given o bottle of scotch by his father-in-law and decides to visit his old girlfriend so that they could drink it together. During this occasion, their discussion is met by aggressive responses from Bird but his friend Himiko assumes its due to his drunkenness and forgives him. Alcohol also makes him loose self control at some moments when they reminisce about their college days when they engaged in sex for the first time. This memory automatically arouses Bird making him desire to have sex with Himiko. His excessive drunkenness is further revealed when Himiko tells him that he can’t mange to rise to the occasion and make love to her due to his drunkenness and she even carries him to be since he had already been over powered by the scotch he had been taking. Birds drinking habit further puts him into trouble when he gets to the class to teach where vomits at the middle of the lesson. The vomiting was because of a hung over, which Himiko had advised him on how to get rid of but he failed to heed to the advice. Despite the embarrassment, one of his students threatened to report the issue to the principal after realizing the vomiting was because of drunkenness a step that could have serous effects on Birds carrier. The over use of alcohol makes Bird a very disorganized person who cannot prepare properly for a lesson.
Bird makes a personal journey through the web of ethics, being a father and the many responsibilities that come with it. His dreams are big, he wants to tour Africa, he dreams of having a perfect son and love with no strings attached to it. However, none of the things that he dreams of are within his reaching. Instead of a healthy child, he gives birth to an abnormal one. He neither tours Africa nor gets the undemanding love. These are the reasons why he has to live a life of denial. Somehow, there is a wish that the abnormal child should die but unfortunately, it does not. The child’s stubborn will to live reflects ill on Bird both as a man and as a husband. Bird’s wife nevertheless hopes that the child should live. She loves the child as all mothers do to their babies and wants to give it a name. This makes Bird to be gin to think twice about his first wish upon his son. As he struggles with this decision, his relationship with Himiko, a mistress that he keeps reinforces a sense of inadequacy in him so much that he starts to accept everything as it is. His mistress is an intelligent broken girl. This however does not help; Bird still grapples with both fear and shame in being the father of an abnormal child. Though he hoped for a perfect relationship, his marriage is failing. His life lacks direction but he seems not to care at all. He dodges the important decisions before him like deciding the fate of his son. After some time he decides to talk with a quack doctor to kill the child. This personal matter corners him every now an then. He is the only one who can solve it. Even though he denies things about his life and engages in alcoholism and sexuality, this recurrent issue does not solve itself.
Bird, a teacher in a cram school, hopes to run away from everything that made him. He even wants to run away from himself. He hopes to run away from his marriage, from the society and all duties that he should provide to his new son. He hopes to escape to Africa. His escapist tendency figures that happiness resides in Africa. The desire to escape to Africa is so intense that he purchases books written by African authors and maps of Africa.
The author of personal matters intended to bring to light modern Japan citizens who live morally and spiritually empty lives. Their live lacks purpose like Bird’s life. Their desire to leave a quiet ordered society means that something internal is not right. Such live of escapism may lead one to be suicidal. For instance, Kimiko’s husband killed himself for no apparent reason. The only solution for someone like Bird is to face matters head on and make the right decision. He should confront his character. This is the only action that will enable him to take moral responsibility for the things he has done. Such an action will enable him to look at others beyond himself. All people should take this journey. A journey of self-examination enables taking of responsibility for one’s actions.
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The narration has areal background. The author’s son was born with a similar brain disorder. When the boy was born, the doctors gave him a very low probability of surviving. They predicted that he would die within a very short time. His father nearly abandoned him at the hospital but a visit to the Hiroshima memorial caused a change of mind in him. The author realized that he had to go back, take his child and care for him. The boy grew up and became an artist in Japan.