Literary techniques are often used by authors to enhance the effect of their work. “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” by Yasunari Kawabata uses strong symbolism to reinforce development of the theme. This story displays a theme of love and acceptance similar to that of finding a diamond in the rough.
The narrator of the story is an observer watching children try to catch insects with their lanterns, some store-bought and some hand-made. These lanterns represent each child’s individuality and diversity. One child bought their lantern at the store but later disposed of it because it was not special. The narrator is overwhelmed with emotions witnessing such a beautiful display of Japanese culture. Kiyoko, wearing a white kimono, symbolizes the innocence of the children. Kiyoko literally means pure child and white is a universal symbol for innocence and cleanliness. This is directly related to the theme because Kiyoko has completely innocent intentions when she meets Fujio which aids the reader’s comprehension of the metaphor of the bell cricket.
Kiyoko is considered a bell cricket to Fujio. Kiyoko was viewed by Fujio as one of a kind and very special. Fujio found an insect and called out several times to see if anyone wanted a grasshopper until a certain girl, Kiyoko, came over and asked for it. She points out almost immediately that it’s actually a bell cricket, however, the narrator realizes that Fujio knew this the whole time and was saving it for her. In Japan the bell cricket is honored due to each one’s unique song which varies depending on how their wings rub together in unison with their body vibrations. In this story the bell cricket symbolizes a special woman worthy of love while grasshoppers embody the average or common women that are easy to find but aren’t “the one.” Fujio gave Kiyoko the bell cricket and in this moment the narrator notices something only he could enjoy the beauty of. Their lanterns were projecting their names they carved in the lantern onto their bodies, foreshadowing their future together, and in that moment they belonged to one another.
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The overarching theme of the story is what one may mistake for ordinary, another may recognize as special and rare, and you’ll know you found your bell cricket “when it seems to you that the world is full of grasshoppers.” We wouldn’t be able to get the full impact of this theme without the use of various symbols. Knowing that the lanterns are individuality, Kiyoko is pure, and the bell cricket is special gives the reader a basis for the theme to foster.
After reading this passage many times I do find it a good well-developed story, however, it was difficult for me to comprehend at first. Sometimes I have a difficulty recognizing abstract concepts such as symbolism when it’s not presented for me so it took a couple tries to really understand what was going on in the story. I’m not a big fan of uplifting themes in literature. I believe they are cheesy and dark themes make for a more interesting and unique read.
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