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Memoirs of a Geisha

A look into Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha.
by

Nathanael Lam

on 15 September 2012

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Transcript of Memoirs of a Geisha

Memoirs of a Geisha By ArthurGolden a memoir and historical novel - Arthur Golden was born on December 6, 1956 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA.

- Attended in total four separate universities; Harvard, Columbia, U of Beijing, and Boston University. There he earned a degree in Japanese Art History, a MA in Japanese Art History, and a MA in English.

- In total Arthur Golden used 10 years to write the memoir, and in the midst of doing so, managed to get sued by one of the geisha he interviewed - Mineko Iwasaki Connection:
Through his studies in Japanese Art History, he was able to see a flaw in the way the Western world viewed geisha, so he sought out a solution; the birth of Memoir of a Geisha About the Author: Lens Historical: consider how geisha are viewed in today's society, is it any different than before? Geisha are still seen inaccurately,
and this might be because of the constant connections made between a geisha and a common prostitute. This is only because people concentrate on the fact that a man pays to have sex with her, and it is just that; a man. This man auctions for her virginity and she becomes his. Different from a prostitute, a geisha does not have casual sex. Formalism: Inaccuracy aside, the style and imagery used to portray Sayuri and her life are very unique. Consider the way Arthur Golden creates Sayuri's character as someone who is dynamic through the way she experiences different things and how she views the world around her. Example:
“I don’t much like thinking of myself as a cup of tea made in a bucket, but I suppose in a way it must be true. After all, I did grow up in Yoroido, and no one would suggest it’s a glamorous spot. Hardly anyone ever visits it. As for people who live there, they never have occasion to leave. You’re probably wondering how I came to leave it myself. That’s where my story begins.” (8) Gender: Sayuri is seen as a strong, independent, and persistent young lady, but still she is oppressed by the Japanese male view towards women. Example:
“Don’t be so worried, Sayuri!” the Baron whispered to me. “For heaven’s sake, I’m not going to do anything to you I shouldn’t do. I only want to have a look, don’t you understand?”(263)
- from this you get a glimpse of how Japanese men see geisha as a mere commodity. Characters: Chiyo/Sayuri:
- protagonist
- young and vibrant Satsu:
- Chiyo's older sister
- portrayed as a sleazy little girl Mother:
- head of the Okiya
- money greedy and is quite old Auntie:
- Mother's adopted sister
- quite old - in fact she is older than Mother Pumpkin:
- fellow servant girl in the Okiya
- becomes Hatsumomo's younger sister, and Sayuri's rival
- she is very clumsy and her facial appearance is off set Hatsumomo:
- antagonist
- most senior geisha in the Okiya
- dangerously beautiful, and has a bad attitude. Mameha:
- Sayuri's mentor and older sister
- one of the greatest geisha in all of Kyoto
- very proper and is strikingly beautiful The Chairman:
- a client of Mameha's
- falls in love with Sayuri, and is Sayuri's love interest
- a very wealthy man, charming, and brother like towards President Nobu President Nobu:
- very good friend of the Chairmans
- falls in love with Sayuri
- very ill tempered, and has scars on his face Point of View: The point of view in the memoir is very subjective to Sayuri, and is in first person. Plot Summary: - Chiyo along with her sister are taken from home, and are brought to the Hanamachi; Chiyo is sold to one Okiya and Satsu another.

- Chiyo meets the Chairman and falls in love with him.

- Chiyo is taken in by Mameha as her apprentice, and her name is changed to Sayuri.

- Doctor Crab becomes Sayuri's Danna

- Sayuri and Mameha reunite after the war, and are requested by the Chairman and President Nobu to attend a meeting on a private island

- Upon their return to Kyoto, The Chairman meets Sayuri at a local tea house, and tells her that he's the reason Mameha took her as an apprentice. Sayuri then tells the Chairman that she's loved him all along.

- In the end Sayuri becomes the Chairmans mistress, and they move to New York City to open a tea house for Japanese business men Style Analysis: Even though I wore this split-peach hairstyle for a number of years, there’s something about it that never occurred to me until quite some time later when a man explained it. The knot – what I’ve called the “pincushion” is formed by wrapping the hair around a piece of fabric. In back where the knot is split, the fabric is left visible; it might be any color, but in the case of an apprentice geisha –after a certain point in her life, at least it’s always red silk. One night a man said to me:
“Most of these innocent little girls have no idea how provocative the‘split peach’hairstyle really is! Imagine that you’re walking along behind a young geisha,thinking all sorts of naughty thoughts about what you might like to do to her, and then you see on her head this split-peach shape, with a big splash of red inside the cleft... And what do you think of?”(163) Imagery - sight imagery is most important because that is how men experience a geisha; visually. Arthur Golden uses this to teach and expose the lifestyle of a geisha and how they were seen in society back then. Devices - presented in first person and the use of allusion. There is a lot of emphasis on allusion throughout the novel, because men were not giving the right to physically experience the geisha's through sexual acts; thus the use of allusions through the way they dressed and the way they acted. Language - Arthur Golden uses very descriptive language to connect the reader with Sayuri herself. Sayuri sees things very differently compared to others. Her mind set is very curious, innocent, beautiful in a way, and overall unique. Instead of seeing things straight forward and simple, she sees them in a very complex way; just as she is. Style Conclusion: Theme Statement: The greatest impact is the imagery created by the use of descriptive language. Arthur Golden uses this particular form to heighten Sayuri's characterization of how she is in a way awkward, dynamic, and unique. By implementing imagery, the reader is taken in by the images and sees things the way Sayuri would have seen them; making it able for the reader to attach themselves to Sayuri, and feel as though you are going through the process and life changes she is going through. To understand Sayuri, all you have to do is read her memoir, but that does not mean you are equipped to become and judge a Geisha. Never forget that, to simply read and understand what Geisha is; well that’s simple enough, but to walk, talk, and become a Geisha is an entirely different story. The End! ありがとうございました!
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