Across the Nightingale Floor
The Transformation of Takeo
“This man had appeared from nowhere. He had killed in front of my eyes to save my life. I dropped to the ground before him, trying to find the words to thank him” (Hearn, 9). It was after this heroic act of Otori Shigeru from “Across the Nightingale Floor” that altered the life of a young boy, Otori Takeo. He grows to be a man and true warrior and learns about himself throughout the story. As he progresses, he becomes an allegiant, extraordinary and driven character.
Takeo’s loyalty toward Shigeru and the clan has proven him to be an allegiant character. For instance, Takeo says to Shigeru, “I have sworn allegiance to the Otori clan. I will never leave you, I will do anything you ask of me” (Hearn, 117). When Shigeru told Takeo it was his choice whether or not he wanted to be claimed by the Tribe or not, Takeo did not hesitate at all to announce his allegiance to Shigeru and the clan. This shows he is allegiant because after Shigeru saved Takeo’s life from Lord Iida, he felt as if he owed his life to him. Thus, this is how he repays Shigeru. Furthermore, Takeo says to Kenji, “If Lord Otori had not got to me first, I would be dead. Where was the Tribe when the Tohan were murdering my people and burning my home? He saved my life then. That’s why I cannot leave him. I never will. Never ask me again!” (Hearn, 156). As Takeo said this to Kenji, he was furious which showed that he was serious about staying along side with Shigeru. This shows Takeo is allegiant because he felt as if his loyalty toward Shigeru was the only way to repay him for his heroic act. Overall, Takeo is an allegiant character based on his words about his allegiance to Shigeru and the clan.
In terms of another positive attribute, Takeo’s acute hearing characterizes him as an extraordinary character. He uses this ability to his advantage throughout the story. For example, Takeo says, “I was becoming used to it, learning to filter out whatever I did not need to listen to, giving no sign that I could hear all their secrets” (Hearn, 52). As a result of this, Takeo was able to plot against his enemies and blackmail them into getting what he wanted. This shows that Takeo is extraordinary because this was not a common action among humans, thus, it was a very unique feature. Furthermore, Takeo states, “Now I heard the hiss of hot water as the bath was prepared, the clatter of dishes from the kitchen, the sliding sigh of the cook’s knife, the tread of a girl in soft socks on the boards outside, the stamp and whinny of a horse in the stables, the cry of the female cat, feeding four kittens and always famished, a dog barking two streets away, the clack of clogs over the wooden bridges of the canals, children singing, the temples bells from Tokoji and Daishoin” (Hearn, 52). Being able to hear little noises like Takeo described here was a great advantage because he was able to detect threats that approached him. This shows that Takeo is extraordinary because his acute hearing was used to hear noises from a very far distance and it kept him alive. Hence, Takeo is an extraordinary character based on his acute hearing that he uses to his advantage.
Moreover, Takeo’s determination to defeating Iida and polishing his special abilities make him a driven character. For instance, Shigeru says to Takeo, “Use it now. Take my head to Terayama and bury me next to Takeshi. And bring Iida’s head to me there” (Hearn, 251). Shigeru was a very significant part of Takeo’s life and after he died, he was mournful. Thus, in order in to honor Shigeru, Takeo carried out his dying wish and completed this task. This shows that Takeo is driven because this death was what kept him going to defeating Iida. Furthermore, Takeo says, “The only time I found peace was when I was absorbed in learning new skills. I became obsessive about honing my talents” (Hearn, 1023). Takeo was very fascinated about his skills and perfecting his abilities was a sub-goal of his. This shows that Takeo is driven because he was determined to reach his goal and be able to protect himself by using these abilities efficiently. Thus, Takeo was a driven character because of his determination to ending Iida, as Shigeru’s dying wish, and to perfecting his skills.
Takeo is ultimately an allegiant, extraordinary, and driven character based on his words, actions, and thoughts. As the story progresses, he gradually grows to become a man and a powerful leader as he takes on new challenges. These challenges have helped him become who he and to arrive at new levels of virtue.