Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2010, 7 Pages
Term Paper (Advanced seminar)
Kurs Contemporary British Short Stories
Kazuo Ishiguro’s 1982 short story A Family Supper tells the story of a Japanese family, sitting down to dinner together for the first time in years. Having lived in California for several years, the son returns to Tokyo to his father’s house. While they wait for the arrival of the daughter, Kikuko, the son and the father talk a little about the mother’s death, the collapse of the father’s firm, and the son’s plans for the future. When Kikuko joins them, the father goes off to prepare the supper, leaving the brother and sister to take a stroll in the garden together where Kikuko talks about her life at university. They also recall their childhood fears of the ghost the son believes to have seen in the garden once. Before dinner, the father decides to show his son around the house. While they are eating, the son confuses a picture of his mother with the appearance of the garden ghost he remembers, which angers his father. The short story closes with the father inviting his son to come home again and confiding his hopes that his daughter may return home too. On the surface, this short story may appear shallow, perhaps even slightly confusing. The reader, however, can rest assured that Ishiguro intended to draw attention to specific themes and has therefore charged seemingly random statements with meaning to convey these themes. Moreover, every reader is, to a certain, extent aware of the atmosphere the story creates and also receptive to a specific impression of the characters. It is, therefore, advisable to reflect upon the different constituents of a short story more closely, in order to understand the story more clearly and to appreciate how Ishiguro succeeds in conveying these impressions. To begin with, in the attempt to create a specific atmosphere, the author of a short story can rely on the appearance of the setting to be an effective supplement to the narrative. The reader can therefore assume with some certainty that Ishiguro intended to communicate a particular ambience in portraying the setting as he did. The story plays in a Japanese family. The action takes place in the father’s house in Tokyo. When they arrive at the house, it is near dusk. The reader will notice that this background image of fading daylight serves as the basis for a story line in which shadows as well as dimly lit rooms add to an atmosphere of mystery. For it is not only the garden, which becomes ever darker, thus supporting the mystery around the
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