This masterpiece by prominent post?World War II female novelist Fumiko Enchi won the Noma Prize for Literature in 1957.
It is the Meiji era (1868?1912). Tomo, the daughter of a former low-ranking samurai, marries a high-ranking bureaucrat, Yukitomo Shirakawa, at 16 years of age. Wives had little status at this point in Japanese history and were expected to think only of serving the family, the head of which, under the household system of the day, enjoyed absolute control over all matters of property, residence, marriage, and divorce. Yukitomo proves to be an exceedingly cruel and tyrannical husband even for such times. He forces Tomo not only to choose mistresses for him but also to look after them under the same roof, and shows no qualms about taking any woman he desires, including the maids and his own daughter-in-law, for his own. Tomo buries her sorrow and emptiness deep inside, sacrificing herself for the sake of the family and enduring in the belief that she will one day reach the light at the end of the tunnel. Yet illness and death are all that await Tomo. She dies taking leave of her husband with the following words: "Do not think of giving me a funeral after I die. Take my body to the sea and cast it into the waves. That will be enough." The novel reveals a searing glimpse into the soul of a Meiji woman oppressed by servitude to her family.