Giovanni's Kaleidoscope of Feelings as He Travels Through Other-Dimensional Space

The stream of complicated feelings of Giovanni traveling through Other-
Dimensional space
Nothing had been heard from Giovanni's father since he'd departed on a fishing expedition to the northern seas a long time ago, and Giovanni's mother was too ill to work. To make ends meet, poor Giovanni had to toil in a printing house after school and so was often teased and ignored by the other children. On the night of the Milky Way Festival, as his classmates went to play on the banks of the river, Giovanni climbed to the top of a black hill and laid down in the grass to gaze up at the starry sky; eventually, he fell asleep. And he began to dream--that he was aboard a train traveling along the Milky Way, and with him was Campanella, the one friend who understood his feelings.

The flow of the story and the emotions Giovanni feels as he travels though another dimension have themselves a certain dream/like, fantastical quality. This is at once a factor that makes Night on the Milky Way Train a heavy read, and at the same a source of the tale's mysterious charm. Very subtle feelings take hold of Giovanni as they crisscross his heart, and sometimes he is afflicted by sudden swings of mood.

Giovanni's delight and uneasiness The first instance of this is his uneasiness upon realizing that a tall boy sitting across from him is in fact his friend Campanella: "Campanella's face turned pale, and he looked as if something were hurting him. Seeing him, Giovanni also felt funny, as though he couldn't remember something that he had somewhere forgotten."

A short while later he was filled with elation on becoming aware that he was traveling together with his dear friend Campanella on the Milky Way Train. This scene starts when Campanella, seeing the glistening pampas grass swaying along the banks of the Milky Way, exclaims, "Oh, good heavens! I wonder if that dry river bed is moonlight!":

"That's not moonlight," said Giovanni. "It's shining because it's the Milky Way!" Giovanni, feeling so elated that he wanted to jump up and down . . . whistled the tune of the rotating stars. . . . "
The meaning of the travel with Campanella for isolated Giovanni His dance for joy at this special delight, of course, was quite natural--for Giovanni always felt so isolated, and he was fascinated by trains and the constellations.

The Milky Way Train, the carriages for the dead to go to the other world But the Milky Way Train not only took travelers wherever they pleased to go in the other dimension. Its carriages also carried the dead from This World to The Other, the hereafter. And, as the reader learns at the end of the story, Campanella who had drowned trying to save a friend who had fallen into the river, was on his way to that Other World.

In this story the interweaving of such motifs seems to correspond closely to the crisscrossing of Giovanni's subtle feelings and his sudden twists and turns of mood.

"Night on the Milky Way Train" Seen as an Expression of Communitas"

Material in quotation marks is from Night On The Milky Way Train
translated by Roger Pulvers, published by Chikuma Shobo.

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