Sodo and Unzu Representing the World of Materialism in the Play Twilight of a Crane


Sodo and Unzu are the villainous characters in the play Twilight of a Crane by Yu ZuwaJunji Kinoshita. They are static black characters throughout the play representing the dark side of money minded and materialistic society. Not only they are symbolic, but also are representative characters in the world haunted by money and modernization.

 You can read the summary of Twilight of a Crane here.

The two villainous friends, Sodo and Unzu come to the peaceful, simple world of Tsu and Yohyo out of nowhere in the play, just like emerging from very earth. They smell the profit they can gain by selling Senba Ori, the clothe woven by Tsu who is a female crane in the form of a human woman. She uses her own feathers to weave the clothe, which symbolizes her love and devotion towards her beloved husband.

Sodo and Unzu see the clothe from a different perspective. Their eyes are blind folded by the greed and monetary value of the clothe; there is hardly any place for love nor affection in their world as it seems. In fact, writer urges reader to see the real value infested into Senba Ori which cannot be measured by worldly measurements. Nevertheless, in a world of materialism, everything has a price, even for abstract values like love and affection.

The friends are well informed and curious as the agents of materialism. They are well aware about the secret Tsu hides from Yohyo. They secretly spy to verify the rumours spread in their community. They realize that Tsu is a crane in the form of a woman and she uses her own feathers to weave the clothe, which make the clothe unique and valuable. However, unfortunately, they are not able to see the nature’s sacrifice over a human to make him happy. As they are preoccupied with vicious intention of owning the precious clothe, they do not see the sacrifice of Tsu to weave that clothe. This is a criticism on the behaviour of human beings who only care about production and profit but disregard the nature which actually provides it.

Their deceptive behaviour is visible from the beginning of their appearance in the play. They plot plan to own the bigger portion of the profit by deceiving Yohyo. They can actually sell the clothe for about thousands of dollars but they cut it short into hundred dollars to deceive Yohyo. They exploit the innocence of Yohyo who is an uneducated villager who has never set his foot beyond the village. His ignorance makes things easier for them to execute the plan.

Sodo and Unzu use a harmful way to own the clothe: that is poisoning the mind of Yohyo. They inject the idea to the mind of Yohyo that money can buy anything. They use his love towards Tsu as a mean to persuade him. They push him to earn more money to give Tsu and Yohyo a better life in the industrialized city Kyoto.

Sodo: You poor idiot! If you get a lot of profit from it, your wife’d be pleased, too.

Unzu: Right! I bet your wife’d be pleased, too.

Sodo: … You see, you can make a lot of money, and on top of that you can see. Kyoto. Over there we’ll take you to many interesting places as I told.

 This materialistic concept is seen in the modern world that runs after ‘an American dream.’ People believe that they should earn much money by any means to lead a better life. The better life is defined as a comfortable life with luxurious consumption. They successfully condition the callow mind of Yohyo to force his wife to weave another clothe.

Use of force cracks the affectionate relationship between Tsu and Yohyo. Driven by the passion to lead a comfortable life in Kyoto, Yohyo forces his wife to weave another clothe. He threatens her saying he would leave her unless her do so. He behaves in such manner because of the instructions of evil friends, Sodo and Unzu:

Sodo: You see, Yohyo? If she says she can’t weave any more, you’ve got to threaten to leave her.

This is a graphical example of their rude and heartless intentions to ruin the relationship between the beloved husband and wife in order to achieve what they require. In the first part of the play it is seen that they are jealous of Yohyo having such a beautiful wife and his life of comfort. This reveal the self-centred and less empathetic nature of people whose mind possessed by only materialistic gains. They do not see the real happiness in simple life with less material comforts.

Their unquenched curiosity and desire destroy everything for everyone in the play. Sodo and Yohyo secretly spy when Tsu weaving in the loom, and sees her in the form of a crane. Their action triggers Yohyo to peep into the loom breaking the promise he made to Tsu. As a result of that Tsu cannot remain in the form of a human again. Unwillingly she has to leave her happy life with Yohyo.

The play ends with the tragic ending of Tsu leaving into the sky. The insatiable greed and desire to acquire more and more ended up with a tragedy. Yohyo loses his simple and happy life and Sodo and Unzu lose their possible profit by selling Senba-Ori in Kyoto.

Kinoshita through the play teaches the audience of the malice of insatiable greed. Sodo and Unzu as agents of modern materialistic manifestation, intervenes the simple way of life creating a tragic end. Writer shows that materialistic concepts can ruin the good qualities of people making them money minded, deceptive, rude, self-centred and less empathetic. 

You can read the essay on: Money vs Love in the Play Twilight of a Crane by Kinoshta here.

The negative effects of materialistic attitudes are clearly visible in the modern society. Don’t you think so? True happiness does not depend on materialistic wealth but spiritual development. If people are happy and contented with what they have, true happiness can be found. Isn’t that so? What other features of materialism seen in the characters of Sodo and Unzu? Please leave a comment to add your idea to the post. Share the post if you find it useful.   





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