Western Images on Asian Feminity

Pierre Loti's novel, Madame Chrysantheme, gives an intimate portrayal of 19th century Asian women, as stereotyped by Western society. Although the book is named in her behalf, the title character, Madame Chrysantheme, is only seen through the subjective eyes of the novel's protagonist, the Narrator. Loti is able to depict the title character as a secondary role, presenting Madame Chrysantheme as the typical Japanese women of the time. By allowing her to fit into this part, Loti is able to convey the theme of "Asian femininity" throughout the pages, allowing the reader to discover for themselves the 19th century Western image of the Asian woman.
Loti's use of Madame Chrysantheme as the title character is done in order to allow her to serve as a function for the novel. Distinctly not a main character, the Narrator, a sailor, takes Chrysantheme as his bride for a temporary marriage when he arrives in Nagasaki. Picking her for her Japanese aura, the Narrator chooses Chrysantheme as he would pick a souvenir from a shelf – the one most defining of Japan.
When hisfirst match is not acceptable to him, he desires another immediately. In the same room is another available bride which is pointed out to him by fellow sailor, Yves.
In my annoyance I had not observed her…The fact is, this one pleased me much better. Eyes with long lashes, rather narrow, but which would be called good in any country around the world…already more of a woman…Chrysantheme and I join hands…Who can tell how this strange arrangement shall work out? Is it a woman or a doll?
The Narrator views Chrysantheme as an object throughout the majority of the novel, and regards her as property or a service he is paying for during his stay in Nagasaki. Not knowing the language fluently, this serves as a barrier between the Narrator and Chrysantheme allowing him to distant himself from her emotionally. He uses her, however, to f…