Last Updated 20 Jun 2022

A Family Supper

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There is certainly a challenging, subliminal meaning to "A Family Supper" written by Kazuo Ishiguro. The story takes place in Tokyo, Japan, a couple of decades ago, "nearing the end of a sunny autumn day." (856) The setting has a great impact on the events that occur throughout the story, heavily relying on Japanese traditions and culture like tea drinking, views of death, and preference of food. The main characters are the son (narrator), his father, and his sister Kikuko. When Kazuo returns from California, his father happens to be the bearer of bad news, informing him of his mother's recent death, as well as the death of his father's firm, and his father's business partner. It's very faint to detect, but these events have altered the father's personality and his perspective on life as well.

In the first few paragraphs, the narrator describes the physical appearance of his father as an introduction to him, and the explanation makes him seem like he's going to be dangerous in the story. "My father was a formidable-looking man with a large stony jaw and furious black eyebrows. I think now in retrospect that he much resembled Chou En-Lai, although he would not have cherished such a comparison, being particularly proud of the pure samurai blood that ran in the family. His general presence was not one which encourage relaxed conversation." (857) This is odd because you think it serves as a warning, as if before he walks in the door he dreads his father's presence, but his father turns out to be reasonably understandable with everything he says. It indicates that his father had changed due to recent events.

When his father's firm had died, he notes that Watanabe, his business partner whom he'd been working for seventeen years, had committed suicide after murdering his family. He states, "I am-in retirement. I'm too old to involve myself in new ventures now. Business these days has become so different." (857) I consider that the death of his partner has shaken him up and had forced him to retire, for the fact that working as an individual at his age, would seem difficult, along with the stresses of recent deaths on his shoulder. "Watanabe was very devoted to his work. The collapse of the firm was a great blow to him. I fear it must have weakened his judgment." (862) I believe that this quote is true for the father as well, except for the weakening of the judgment fraction, because he does seem to be more kind than descriptions before. An example of his historical unkindness is when the narrator has a flashback of a time that his father had hit him for "chattering like an old woman." (857)

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I believe that the sister's perception of the father is that he is still intimidating. This is for the fact that when the father excuses himself, she was more comfortable with speaking. "My sister relaxed quite visibly once he had left the room." (858) I believe on the other hand, the narrator is quite comfortable when talking with the father, and they exchanged great, soothing conversations.

"It's my belief that your mother's death was no accident. She had many worries. And some disappointments." (860) This adds weight to the father's stresses for the truth that his mother's death is purposeful and that she wasn't happy with things going on in her life, and that he is a part of her life, which is depressing in many cases. The narrator leaving for California was part of the reason for this too, and the father knows this, but I guess he has the "what's done is done" outlook about it.

It is relevant that the father has changed drastically due to the events of death, and that he is much more kind than ever before. He seems much more easier to deal with now, than ever before because of the recent disasters.

A Family Supper essay

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