Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring Summary

  • Last updated on July 9, 2023
Title: Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring

Author: Kenzaburō Ōe

Publication Date: 1981

Genre: Fiction, Psychological Novel

Page Length: N/A


Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring is a captivating psychological novel written by Kenzaburō Ōe in 1981. Throughout the narrative, Ōe skillfully delves into complex themes such as identity, familial relationships, and the psychological impact of World War II on Japan and its people.

Part I: In the Shadow of War

The novel opens with the introduction of Kogito Choko, a writer haunted by the persistent memories of his younger brother, Gii. A talented musician who faced intellectual and physical disabilities, Gii ultimately met his tragic fate during World War II at the tender age of three. Choko's recurring dreams about Gii prompt him to embark on a self-reflective journey, attempting to understand his brother's life and the psychological burdens he himself carries.

Choko's introspection leads him to focus on his relationship with his father, who had once forced him to brutally kill a crippled bird. The eerie symbolism of "pluck the bud and destroy the offspring" begins to take shape as Choko navigates his complicated feelings towards his own offspring and the trauma that has impacted their lives.

Part II: The Birth of the New Chorus Leader

The second part of the novel explores Choko's tumultuous relationships with his wife, Chikashi, and their two children, Akari and Ikari. As a Chorus Leader in an annual village festival, Choko must confront the responsibility of familial legacy. He delves into his patriarchal role while also exploring his own identity as an artist under societal pressure.

Choko's journey is further intensified by the arrival of Ugawa, a man claiming to be his dead brother Gii. Ugawa's presence incites chaos and confusion within the Choko family, forcing them to confront painful truths and question the nature of reality. Ōe effectively weaves existential and psychological themes into the narrative, presenting readers with a profound exploration of personal and cultural identity.

Part III: The Return

In the final section, Choko's search for self-discovery takes a dramatic turn when he encounters a mysterious individual known as the "Demon." This encounter propels Choko to confront the darkest aspects of his relationship with his disabled brother and the trauma he experienced during the war. As the narrative unfolds, the psychological boundaries between reality and illusion blur, challenging Choko's perception of himself and those around him.

Throughout Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring, Ōe invites readers to contemplate the lasting impact of war on an individual's psyche. He explores themes of guilt, trauma, and the intricacies of familial relationships. Drawing from his own experiences growing up in post-war Japan, Ōe provides a nuanced account of the internal struggles faced by those who lived through this transformative period in history.

This novel serves as a poignant reminder that the scars of war extend far beyond the battlefield. It compels readers to grapple with the complexities of guilt, identity, and the potential for redemption. Through its masterful storytelling, Pluck the Bud and Destroy the Offspring offers valuable insight into the profound effect historical events can have on individuals, shaping their lives and the lives of those around them.

Categories: Books