Endo, Shusaku. Silence. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1969, 1980.

This finely crafted book is appropriate for a higher level high school history or literature course. If you are looking for a secondary source for an AP World History class, this is a great choice. Shusaku Endo tells the story of Father Sebastian Rodriguez, a Seventeenth Century Portuguese Catholic Priest in Tokugawa Japan. The book would be an excellent means of addressing the AP World History Theme 2: Development and Interaction of Cultures. The AP World History exam asks that students be able to describe how and why “the increase in interactions between newly connected hemispheres and intensification of connections within hemispheres expanded the spread and reform of existing religions and created syncretic belief systems and practices.” Specifically students are asked to explain how and why “the practice of Christianity continued to spread throughout the world and was increasingly diversified by the process of diffusion and the Reformation.” Endo addresses these issues in a deeply engaging narrative that also raises profound questions of faith, service, and loyalty.
Students will need at least a rudimentary understanding of the European age of exploration, global trade networks, and Japanese unification. The Translator’s Preface provides some background information that can be used to supplement any World History or Asian Studies Text but should not be read as a stand-alone source. Teachers should be prepared to discuss some very weighty issues as students read through the book. Some overarching questions might be:
• How does the author address the problem of cultural bias?
• Identify and describe the ethical dilemmas faced by Father Rodriguez, Kichijiro, and Lord Inoue.
• Critique Inoue’s argument that “Japan is a swamp in which Christianity can never take root.” What evidence can you find to support this argument, how might you refute it?

These materials are intended for use with this source material

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