Prayer: Religion and Social Activism
The short story titled Prayer was written by Sata Ineko (1994-1998) an award-winning Japanese author who was known for her advocacy for women's rights and her involvement in the proletarian movement in Japan. The story follows a group of young female factory workers and their strike against the company. The conflict lies in Christian workers' refusal to participate in the strike. Throughout the text, we see examples of a major disconnect between the Christian and non-christian workers, and opposing the majority leads to isolation and resentment of the Christian girls. After a mob of workers attacks the Christian girls' prayer group, the girls leave the factory to stay at a church where they find that the Christian church leaders don't seem to understand or care about the worker's cause. In the end, the main character Tomiyo begins to have doubts about her religion and decides to make a change. All in all, Sata Ineko's Prayer is a captivating read that provides a critical look at religion and social movements.
Personally, I can relate to Tomiyo because I was raised in a Christian family but began to have doubts about religion and no longer consider myself to be Christian. I enjoyed the story because while the text itself was relatively short, Sata Ineko was able to create complex characters and crafted a compelling narrative. The complexity of the characters is emphasized in the inner conflicts they experience. For example, "Tomiyo comforted herself by thinking of how she had prayed for those who excluded her. It was required of her to do so as a Christian. Nevertheless, for Tomiyo, it felt isolating to oppose the majority in the dorms where everyone did everything together" (p. 77). I would recommend this text to other students and scholars because it gives an interesting perspective on the relationship between religion and the worker's movement in Japan through the lens of young women. The text requires an audience that has some knowledge of Japanese culture and history because the text does not offer much background that is needed to have a complete understanding of the text. I would rate this text 4 out of 5 stars because I found the story to be captivating however I would have liked it to go on longer and perhaps go into more depth with some of the characters.
Revolution : An Anthology of Japanese Proletarian Literature. The University of Chicago Press. 76-91.