Tuesday, October 21, 2008

"The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket"

The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket is a short story that begins with an unknown narrator who discovers a cluster of children with colorful lanterns on an insect hunt in the surrounding trees of a university.
“There were about twenty lanterns. Not only were there crimson, pink, indigo, green, purple, and yellow lanterns, but one lantern glowed with five colors at once”.
As he continues to watch the narrator goes in and out of his imagination and reality to complete the scene. At the end the narrator witnesses a special moment among the children they will never know occurred but because he is observing from the outside, he is privileged to experience it.
What I admire most about Kawabata is that he is able to convey such a deep message through two pages of simple words. I would have to agree with Edmund Yeo’s thoughts from the Swifty, Writing blog when he states that Kawabata has a “fine eye for detail: he has an impressionist’s command of light and color paired with a modernist’s appreciation for the strange…” For example, the narrator begins to describe how the lanterns are made it is clear that he is not there and has no idea if that’s how they were made yet he creates this fairytale image of color and joy.
“The bobbing lanterns, the coming together of children on this lonely slope—surely it was a scene from a fairytale?”
It is strange that the narrator is forcing himself to believe he was there, however, at the same time what the narrator imagines is beautiful and believable even to the reader. The message of youth and childhood is present in the story through the images of play and color, and the overall pure tone of Kawabata. Reading this story is similar to looking at a child’s crayon drawing, at first it’s nothing significant but under the scribbles and overlapping colors there is something more. Ralph Waldo Emerson once noted that “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit” and that is something I find true through this tale.


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