Kazuo Ishiguro Questions and Answers

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How does each writer present family relationships in Ishiguro's "A Family Supper" and "Chemistry" by Graham Swift?

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Both stories share certain elements. Both involve suicide. Both have to do with power dynamics within their respective families. Both deal with intergenerational conflict. Both feature awkward family meals. Both stories have to do with the theme of loss.

In "A Family Supper ," the family is dealing with the suicide of the mother and the father's emotional detachment. There is a sense that the father, in his depression and sudden early retirement, is suffering from a kind of "loss of face" that, for his business partner Watanabe, resulted in the murder of his family and his own suicide. The father's clipped conversation and the son's noncommittal answers about his future plans suggest that a dangerous dynamic is at work: the father's anger at his son's move to California is sublimated by his stiff formality; it's clear that the forgiveness he extends to the son comes at the cost of emotional bitterness and a recognition of deep shame. The ambiguous ending of the story hints that, like...

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