Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket

In this short story, “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” written by Yasunari Kawabata found in the Palm of the Hand Stories by Lane Dunlop and J. Martin Holman, is told through the eyes of a narrator.  Taking place on the slopes of Japan, the narrator watches as children engage on an insect chase at the base of an embankment.  Each child with a home made lantern in hand, unique with different colored paper stretched over the sides, and old-fashioned patterns so that from distance you just see a “bobbing cluster of beautiful varicolored lanterns.” Kawabatta goes on about this insect chase as an outsider looking in on these children in a simple yet captivating way that pulls you in yourself.  She makes a seemingly insignificant moment like the exchanging on an insect and the way light happens to hit something seem so important. In the end, when the story turns to the thoughts of wisdom of the narrator you learn that this story is not just about a childish insect chase, but how it is a metaphor for something much greater in life. As the narrator seems to speak from experience imparting wisdom we learn about love and hope.  That  “even is you have the wit to look by yourself in a bush away from the other children, there are not many bell crickets in the world.” And grasshoppers may seem like bell crickets and bell crickets may seem like grasshoppers. However, this story is also about hope, which “should the day come, when it seems to you that the world is full of grasshoppers.” Remember the moments when your beautiful lantern on a girl’s chest writes your name. Much like Chekhov’s, “The Kiss” it is a short story about a moment so ordinary yet can change you forever. And like Bob Marley’s famous Redemption song about “emancipating yourself form mental slavery”, sung with just his voice and an acoustic guitar, this story is simple but you will catch you off guard with a  deeper meaning. BS

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