(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

After a shocking incident in their home two days earlier, Toshiko and her actor husband meet friends in a Tokyo nightclub. The young wife and mother is dumbfounded to hear her husband recounting the incident—which has disturbed her greatly—as merely an amusing story for their companions’ entertainment. Troubled and vulnerable, Toshiko feels acutely aware of her husband’s insensitivity, neglect, and lack of consideration for her. Her mind swells with loneliness and her fears of the future provoked by her horror at the scene she has so recently encountered in her son’s nursery.

The story that so horrifies Toshiko began with the arrival of a new nurse, a woman with an oddly distended stomach and a prodigious appetite. Not long after she arrived, loud moans came from the nursery. Toshiko and her husband rushed in to discover the nurse giving birth on the floor. Toshiko’s husband rescued the family’s good rug and placed a blanket under the nurse to prevent damage to the parquet floor.

Although two days have passed, Toshiko, in contrast to her husband, is still preoccupied by this experience. In particular, she obsesses about one scene that she alone witnessed. The doctor who finally arrived to attend the nurse derided her and her bastard child so strongly that he had his attendant wrap the newborn boy in newspaper. Appalled by the doctor’s cruelty, Toshiko rewrapped the child in new flannel. The image of the innocent child in his...

(The entire section is 480 words.)


(Short Stories for Students)

‘‘Swaddling Clothes’’ is Toshiko’s story. In fact, she is the only character that is named throughout the narrative. As Toshiko...

(The entire section is 615 words.)