A Single Shard

by Linda Sue Park

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What caused Crane-man's death in A Single Shard?

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Crane-man suffers a tragically unfortunate fate at the hands of sheer happenstance. Crane-man found himself crossing a bridge at the same time as a farmer with his cart. The wood of the bridge turned out to be unstable and when the two passed each other, part of the bridge gave way and Crane-man fell off.

This information is not relayed to Tree-ear until his return from Songdo, making the passing particularly tragic. Crane-man was an honorable man who, even though his poverty forced him to live under a bridge, refused to steal to sustain himself. He got by on what he could salvage and taught Tree-ear to do the same. His name came from his deformed leg and the peculiar way that it caused him to stand.

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In the book A Single Shard, Crane-man acts as a father to the orphaned main character, Tree-ear. The two live under a bridge together, and Crane-man teaches him never to steal from others, despite having to eat scraps in order to survive. When Tree-ear starts working for the master potter Min and is given a meal each day, he figures out a way to save half of his lunch for Crane-man. 

When Tree-ear comes back from his journey to Songdo, he learns from Min that Crane-man has died. While Crane-man was on a bridge, a farmer with a heavy cart started crossing as well. The wood of the bridge was rotten, and when the farmer's cart came past, Crane-man was forced off the side, broke through the railing, and fell into the water below. 

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