What are the unequal power relationships represented in "A Family Supper?"

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

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One distinct power relationship that is unequal involves the preparation of food.  It is never fully explained as to what fish the father is preparing for dinner.  Given the discussion of fugu at the start  of the story, Watanbe's "honorable" means of suicide, the mother's death, and the fact that there is this pall of sadness that seems to envelop the surviving family members, the father's preparation of the fish dinner represents an unequal power relationship.  It is never fully clear if he is preparing the fish in which death could result.  This conveys an unequal power relationship.

Another example of the unequal power relationship that is present exists between the final exchange between father and son.  The father pleads for his son to stay on in Japan.  The son is unable to commit, and the father is never able to release him from such a request.  The pangs of emotional guilt and what it means to adhere to tradition constitute an unequal power relationship between father and son, where disproportionate emotional constructions have supplanted open dialogue and mutual trust.

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