Silence by Shūsaku Endō

downloadSilence is set during the early years of Christianity in Japan and the story revolves around Father Sebastian Rodrigues who sets off with two other fellow priests after hearing news that his mentor Father Ferreira apostatized. No one knew for sure whether Father Ferreira is still alive and no one can confirm if the news/rumors about him renouncing his faith were true. Rodrigues embarks on a journey that may cost him his life. Sounds like an adventure given that as a gist of the story, right? However, it takes a different scenario focusing on Rodrigues’ faith, feelings and conscience.

The story started too slow for my taste, to be honest, I wouldn’t have continued reading if I had another book with me at the time. It’s a novel about faith and one’s personal view of God and leans heavily on Catholic theology specially for the first part of the book.

The main issue is, as the title suggests, silence. We see very terrible things happening around us and if you believe there’s a God, at some point, it makes you ask why doesn’t He intervene, why doesn’t He do something, why does He allow evil things to happen? Does God see us in our breaking points? God himself said, “pray and I will hear you and that I will love you and comfort you.” But then, silence is all there is. The first words in Silence were the first words I’ve read from Shusaku Endo, I have never read anything by him before. But it kinda felt a bit odd though to find out that he is a Catholic, thus, he ought to understand the nature of their faith. I mean, it would make faith meaningless if God is a vocal God. Isn’t that what’s powerful about faith? That it exists without a conclusive proof of God’s existence?

Anyway, God was silent to the end of the book. Rodrigues has to choose between renouncing his faith and save the Christians from being tortured or refuse to apostatize and see more Christians die from torture. I have mixed feelings about the ending maybe because I was expecting the story to end in martyrdom which is actually one of the main issues raised in the book about Christian missions and yet, Father Rodrigues apostatized. Be that as it may, Shusaku Endo was somehow able to reflect man’s thoughts in the face of adversity.

A character who matters a great deal though is Kichijiro who represents Christianity’s greatest villain, Judas. A Japanese “Gollum.” A weakling. He comes and goes throughout the book but in his character is something we can find uncomfortably real. The relationship between Kichijiro and Father Rodrigues makes us understand about the latter’s torment.

I’ve read reviews a few minutes before purchasing this book but I’m left slightly disappointed. I felt I’ve read a different book. I was raised a Christian but no longer share the faith so maybe that’s why I couldn’t really warm up to the main conflict of the story, but still, this book may appeal to many with regards to the juxtaposition it depicts, culture, the pitiful characters and their unanswered prayers and the tough what if questions people are perhaps afraid to address because it could lead them, or not, to conclude that there probably is no God.

I’m interested to watch the movie adaptation though. Have you guys seen it? Would you recommend me watching it? Please share your thoughts.

Quotable Quotes:

“Man is a strange being. He always has a feeling somewhere in his heart that whatever the danger he will pull through. It’s just like when on a rainy day you imagine the faint rays of the sun shining on a distant hill.”

“Sin, he reflected, is not what it is usually thought to be; it is not to steal and tell lies. Sin is for one man to walk brutally over the life of another and to be quite oblivious of the wounds he has left behind.”

“It is easy enough to die for the good and beautiful; the hard thing is to die for the miserable and corrupt.”

Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Author: Just_Me :)

Basically a breathing, moving, eating and happy-go-lucky homo sapiens. Full-time daydreamer and part-time paranoid. I love reading, I love Roger Federer, I love food.

7 thoughts on “Silence by Shūsaku Endō”

  1. I enjoyed reading your review. Even though Silence is one my favourite books of all time, I understand completely your concerns and problems with this novel and appreciate your honest opinion. You are right in your review that a priest like should understand his faith. But, I also think that Father Rodrigues tries to address the gaps and contradictions in knowledge about God in order for him to get closer to Him. Another priest may have stronger faith and unquestionable believe in God, but this is Father Rodrigues’ personal journey. At the end, he asks himself what the Christ (as he pictures Him) would have done in the situation? Apostatised publicly or let the people die? He would have saved the people because human life is more important than individual belief, he figures – a weakness, yes, but human weakness. At the end, it is hinted that he never in his heart renounced his faith, and that is what is important.

    Btw, I am also a huge fan of Roger Federer. He is my favourite sportsman of all times, sorry I just had to say seeing that you also love him 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you for sharing your views about Silence. It’s always nice knowing and looking through other’s perspectives about a book. This makes me look at it differently, if not better. I appreciate that you took your time sharing. Thank you!

      And I am so delighted to know you love Roger Federer, too!!!😃 Yeah, my favorite, ever! 😍

      Liked by 1 person

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