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SOSEKI, Natsume



Botchan
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The meeting hall was a long, narrow room next to that of the principal, and was used for dining room. About twenty chairs, with black leather seat, were lined around a narrow table, and the whole scene looked like a restaurant in Kanda. At one end of the table the principal took his seat, and next to him Red Shirt. All the rest shifted for themselves, but the gymnasium teacher is said always to take the seat farthest down out of modesty. The situation was new to me, so I sat down between the teachers of natural history and of Confucius. Across the table sat Porcupine and Clown. Think how I might, the face of Clown was a degrading type. That of Porcupine was far more charming, even if I was now on bad terms with him. The panel picture which hung in the alcove of the reception hall of Yogen temple where I went to the funeral of my father, looked exactly like this Porcupine. A priest told me the picture was the face of a strange creature called Idaten. To-day he was pretty sore, and frequently stared at me with his fiery eyes rolling. “You can’t bulldoze me with that,” I thought, and rolled my own in defiance and stared back at him. My eyes are not well-shaped but their large size is seldom beaten by others. Kiyo even once suggested that I should make a fine actor because I had big eyes.

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Now that I thought about it, though, I realized that most people actually encourage you to turn bad. They seem to think that if you don't, you'll never get anywhere in the world. And then on those rare occasions when they encounter somebody who's honest and pure-hearted, they look down on him and say he's nothing but a kid, a Botchan. If that's the way it is, it would be better if they didn't have those ethics classes in elementary school and middle school where the teacher is always telling you to be honest and not lie. The schools might as well just go ahead and teach you how to tell lies, how to mistrust everybody, and how to take advantage of people. Wouldn't their students, and the world at large, be better off that way? Redshirt had laughed at me for being simpleminded. If people are going to get laughed at for being simpleminded and sincere, there's no hope. Kiyo never laughed at me for saying anything like what I said to Redshirt. She would have been deeply impressed by it. Compared to Redshirt, she's far and away the superior person.

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