Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Andrew Carter's Canaries Blog

Kawabata’s Canaries is a story of great heartbreak and sadness.  At the start of the story, we are immediately introduced to a depressed man who has lost his wife and is dealing with committing infidelity. The story is in letterform, and is being written to the narrator’s mistress. He is explaining to the woman that he is going to give up the canaries that she gave him when they were together. The canaries were originally intended as a love memento, but now, as the birds are in their frail last stage of life, they only remind the narrator of who was once their caretaker: his wife. This makes the narrator start to wonder if it was in fact his wife who brought him memories of his mistress, because she kept the birds alive and took care of them. The conflict the narrator deals with is an interesting inner turmoil, and an ironic one at that; you’d think that if the man cheated on his wife, he wouldn’t want to think about her in the first place, and not only does he do so, but the canaries which are supposed to remind him of his “madam” are reminding him of his wife. Fancy that. It’s also plausible to wonder what the man is really upset about, losing his wife or having the affair? A morose, thought-provoking and even somewhat ominous tale, Canaries evokes, ever so slightly, an aspect of Purdy’s Daddy Wolf. The aspect that both narrator’s have lost their wives and are broken up about it creates a similarity between the two stories. They both deal with a love lost, but the way each main character deals with their emotions is what differs the two. If Canaries were a song, however, it would have to be “Fix You” by Coldplay; the lyrics speak for themselves: “When you lose something you can’t replace; When you were too in love to let it go” and the song sounds like that for the majority of it’s 5 minute running time. AC

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