A college student takes a job as companion to a young composer who is considered crazy. The composer believes the ghost (Aghwee the Sky Monster) of his son visits him because his soul cannot rest; it cannot because the father allowed the child to die by agreeing to have it fed only sugar water. The composer dies when he thinks he's saving his son from being struck by a truck. The narrator, ten years later, recounts the composer's story because he connects it in his mind with an important event in his own life.


The father of a baby born with a brain hernia decides to let the baby die so as not to straddle himself and his wife with a vegetable-son. This story portrays the effects on the father's life of that decision. The narrator of "Aghwee the Sky Monster" may be an alter ego of the composer/father. Ten years after the father's "death," the narrator is blinded in one eye by a group of children who, for no reason, threw stones at him. When he forgives them, he senses a being leave the ground behind him and soar into the sky: "Good-bye, Aghwee, I heard myself whispering in my heart." This story should be considered in tandem with Oe's novel, A Personal Matter (see this database), as reading both will help us understand better the complexity of the father's experience.


Translated and with an introduction by John Nathan.

Primary Source

Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness: Four Short Novels by Kenzaburo Oe



Place Published

New York



Page Count