When Ueda finally mentions a teacher that he knows will make Ozu recognize him, he touches him, a gesture considered an affirmation to reaffirm the recall of what transpired. At the mention of the teacher ('old Rat Hole'), Endo has slowly started to weave a tapestry of events by which Ozu will recall his past. Ozu's "half pleased and half pained smile" elicits questions from the readers - was he half pleased to realize he actually remembered, or that he was meeting someone from his past Was he half pained because he realizes how distant it was
Ozu's pronouncement that he does not attend any of the reunions reflects his personality as a simple man. Reunions are not a special event for him, especially with those who did not contribute much in his life and therefore weren't actually given a special place in his memory; the same does for him during reunions. He was not within the capacity nor is he the type to spend time to mingle and socialize. Of the three characters, Ozu is the most interesting. He is indeed the main protagonist, but rather have the entire novel revolve around him, the first part starts with the narration of how special people and events in Ozu's life was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Endo plainly presents the setting and environment by which his novel is to start - a time when industrialization was sure to stay in Japan.
The train passed Lake Hamana. Smoke flowed slowly from the factor chimneys. In the distance, the white buildings of a housing development stretched out in the afternoon sun. (Endo 2)
It was during the 1970s that Japan experienced a tremendous shift since the arrival of manufacturing, where industrialization became widely implemented, and a new way of life was slowly being suggested and eventually superseded the traditional way of life in Japan. Settlers in the cities grew in number as jobs in industrial factories also increased.
Upon mentioning by Ueda that their former school, Nada Middle-School, has now become the topnotch education institution in their country, Ozu recognizes the immense change - it used to be a place that housed "a lot of the students who couldn't make it into any other middle school" (1). Ozu was not ignorant; he has already heard of the news about their former middle-school, even learning that some parents move near the school in order to have their children attend the school. Such efforts just so parents can support their children as they attend the brightest school in the country affirms the notion of how attaining a grand education has now become the primary goal of families inculcated from parents to children to grandchildren, forgetting the simplicities of a basic life that used to be what Japan had, usually traditional way of life that is content with produce from the farm or from fishing.
When Ozu's son tells him , "I just can't believe you went to Nada, Dad," (2) Endo introduces us to this new character who, as we learn through the novel, was a young struggling doctor with desires constituting the Western concepts of life, particularly skilled workers and industrialization, at a time when investing on securing children a good education to declare their social status as somewhere up the