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How are the characters impacted by themes in A Family Supper?

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rufije | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 10, 2008 at 2:12 AM via web

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How are the characters impacted by themes in A Family Supper?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 29, 2011 at 4:58 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that one of the fundamental themes in the Ishiguro work is the relationship between past and present.  This ensnares the narrator and his relationship with his own past.  The implications of this are profound, as it forces the narrator, to a great extent, to examine his own life in the face of his past.  When the father asks his son to stay in Japan, it is a moment in which the past, present, and future comes in the full force of realization for the narrator.  He finds himself being challenged by the collision between past and present.  Such a theme not only ensnares the narrator, but it is something that is troubling to a nation that seeks to understand its own sense of present and future in the wake of the past of World War II.  The configuration of the past  in light of the present and future is a challenging theme for both the narrator, and as Ishiguro constructs it, for Japan, as a nation.  I think that another theme that impacts the characters is the notion of tradition and its impact on individuals.  The narrator's mother adhered to tradition in not offending her host and eating the fish that contained poison.  The father's business partner embraced tradition in killing himself and his daughters due to the shame of a poor business deal.  While these examples display a painful element to the theme of tradition, the narrator broke with tradition in leaving his parents, but still suffers from a painful condition despite being free from traditional constructs.  In this, the theme of tradition is a poweful one that impacts the characters in Ishiguro's work.

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