Schoolgirl by Dazai Osamu reviewed by Lucia (Grade 7)

A short story representing the internal struggle of understanding one's self and others as teens grow up and the world around them changes.

A book written in 1939 and then translated to English is about a day in the life of a young girl in Tokyo, Japan who is just starting to become an adult. She is described to be an average school girl, sporting glasses and short, dark hair. This is a short story representing the internal struggle of understanding one's self and others as teens grow up and the world around them changes.


The story starts off with a whimsical beginning: our main character opens her eyes and is greeted with a pleasant memory of playing hide and seek when she was younger. This pleasant memory was then shattered by the not so welcome greeting of waves of sadness and exhaustion. The warm memories of hide and seek are followed by the melancholy of memories of her long gone father.


Our main character is shown to have a negative outlook on the world around her, and most noticeably, herself. As she groggily gets out of bed, she has an inner monologue about people’s eyes. She claims that, “the beauty of your eyes is the best thing about people.” However, she later says that, “My eyes are just big saucers, there’s nothing to them. When I look at them closely in the mirror, it’s disappointing.” This girl frequently compares the outside world with herself. Sometimes she praises others in order to point out the flaws of herself. Other times, she puts others down and ends it with something along the lines "but in the end, we are the same."


This school girl frequently looks around her and uses other’s habits as a way of self deprecation for herself. She is shown to be a girl with many insecurities. She cares for what her classmates think of her, how her mom thinks of her, what adults say about her and even the opinions of those who have been long gone from her life. Sometimes, she hates those around her. But even then, she is still just a young girl. She feels cast away, abandoned, alone, angry, scared, insecure, and is ultimately just trying to get by. “I am Cinderella without her prince. Do you know where to find me in Tokyo? You won’t see me again.”