Study Guide

Silence Suffering

By Shusaku Endo


Set in impoverished 1600s Japan, Silence features no shortage of suffering. We watch poor villagers struggle day in and day out just to put scraps on the table. We see Japanese Christians face unbearable persecution. Heck, all you have to do is look at a samurai the wrong way to end up on the business end of his katana. As Father Rodrigues witnesses such gut-wrenching suffering among the community he claims to serve, he's forced to wonder if his own actions—no matter how noble-hearted—might be contributing to all of this pain.

Questions About Suffering

  1. How does social class play into opinions about Christianity in the novel?
  2. Will the people of Tomogi remain Christian? Explain.
  3. Why does suffering make Rodrigues feel closer to God?
  4. Why are Japanese Christians so fearless in the face of martyrdom?

Chew on This

The seemingly brutal class system in Japan is the primary reason why so many poor villagers flock to Christianity.

The Japanese Christians seem so fearless in the face of death because their lives on earth are filled with so much suffering.