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  • The kitchen is a symbol of renewal, warmth, comfort, psychological support against the hurtfulness of the world. The Moon is a symbol of destiny, the supernatural forces that influence people’s lives (something Yoshimoto believes) and of hope, new beginnings. Dreams, flashbacks and premonitions again show the supernatural and forces like destiny at work – Mikage says that people choices are made ‘unconsciously’, connecting our decisions more to fate than conscious choice.
  • Students can record notes for each quote on their already annotated copies of HANDOUT#1 and HANDOUT#2 (annotated when they were working at home and in pairs), or the teacher can type notes on HANDOUT#1 and HANDOUT#2 projected on screen instead of using the power point. These notes can then be saved and mass-mailed to students or posted on the CLC.
  • At the start it is the homesickness of Mikage that drives her to live with Yuichi and Eriko and gives her a ‘family’. Also, Mikage says ‘truly happy memories always live on, shining’, proving that although nostalgia can make us feel sad – especially thinking of people we have lost – in the end it is an important part of healing. The ‘shining’ quality of good memories sustains us and can, like it does when Yuichi’s gloom threatens to engulf Mikage at the novella’s end, restore us and break the spell of death.
  • Note how the sometimes dreamlike feel of the novella (see notes on style) reflects Mikage’s view of dreams and reality – in the sense that this style blurs the distinction between the two just as Mikage does in the quote on the next slide.
  • The idea of destiny is important here, reinforced by the fact both times a lighthouse appears in the novel Mikage is dreaming or thinking about Yuichi. Note also how the beam of the lighthouse touches Mikage in the final image, and then makes ‘a pathway of light on the waves’, which reminds us of when she said ‘I saw a road leading from me to him. He seemed to glow with white light.’ (7) This is reinforced by the fact she phones Yuichi soon after the vision of the lighthouse. Even if she realizes she is ultimately alone and must experience life ‘with or without Yuichi’ there is a clear sense of connection established in their sharing the song in their shared dream, and in the choice of the word ‘pathway’ on p. 104.
  • Kitchenlesson2

    1. 1. Kitchen Banana Yoshimoto
    2. 2. Lesson 2 Structure, Symbols and Magic Realism
    3. 3. Review of homework <ul><li>What might the kitchen be a symbol of in the novella? </li></ul><ul><li>What might the full moon be a symbol of in the novel? </li></ul><ul><li>What might Yoshimoto’s use of dreams, flashbacks and premonition tell us? </li></ul>
    4. 4. Part 1: Kitchen <ul><li>The novel is divided into two parts: ‘Kitchen’ and ‘Full Moon’. The titles are also main symbols used to illustrate the development of Yoshimoto’s themes. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the quote sheet (HANDOUT#1) provided that traces the development of Yoshimoto’s use of the kitchen as a symbol in Part 1 and Part 2. </li></ul><ul><li>What themes are revealed by each quote? With a partner write down your ideas. </li></ul>
    5. 5. Part 2: Full Moon <ul><li>Look at the quote sheet (HANDOUT#2) provided that traces the development of Yoshimoto’s use of the full moon as a symbol in Part 2. </li></ul><ul><li>What themes are revealed by each quote? With a partner write down your ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>Now feedback to the class what you decided. Discuss what the kitchen and moon symbols represent. What is their significance in the novella? </li></ul>
    6. 6. Death and the progression of the seasons <ul><li>Why do you think Yoshimoto splits the novella into two parts, both of which begin with the death of someone close? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does Yoshimoto move the novella from spring (when Mikage moves into the home of the Tanabes) to summer (when Mikage learns to cook) to late autumn (when Eriko dies) to winter by the end? </li></ul>
    7. 7. Other symbols <ul><li>Two main symbols in Kitchen are kitchens and the full moon. What do you think these other symbols represent? </li></ul><ul><li>The dirigible Mikage emotionally clings to which floats away from her: ‘I was determined to keep that dirigible, so far off in the sky, in sight no matter what. (34) </li></ul><ul><li>The sharing of food, especially the katsudon at the end of the novel: ‘Yuichi eating katsudon , me drinking my tea, the darkness no longer harboring death.’ (101) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Indoors and outdoors <ul><li>Characters in the novel tend to be mainly associated with either outdoors or indoors. </li></ul><ul><li>Why is Mikage associated with outdoors? What does this suggest about her? </li></ul><ul><li>Why is Yuichi associated with indoors? What does this suggest about him? </li></ul>
    9. 9. Dreams, flashbacks and premonitions <ul><li>Another device used in the construction of the novella is Yoshimoto’s manipulation of chronological time – by including shared dreams, flashbacks and premonitions the author is able to highlight ideas about our experience of life. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the purpose of this next section in lesson 2 to explore what ideas about life Yoshimoto might be developing in her manipulation of time and reality. </li></ul>
    10. 10. Nostalgia <ul><li>A key theme in the novella is that of nostalgia, also an important component of sh ou jo, outlined in lesson 1. </li></ul><ul><li>NOSTALGIA: 1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past. </li></ul><ul><li>2. The condition of being homesick; homesickness. </li></ul><ul><li>What function does nostalgia play in our lives? Why do we have this feeling of ‘homesickness’ and ‘bittersweet longing for things, persons or situations of the past? </li></ul>
    11. 11. Flashbacks <ul><li>We will refer especially to pages 79-82, the flashback to Eriko’s discussion with Mikage about his wife’s death. </li></ul><ul><li>By placing this scene here, at a late stage of the text and outside chronological time, Yoshimoto is able to emphasize the theme of nostalgia and it effects on Mikage. </li></ul><ul><li>How does the experience of nostalgia affect Mikage in this scene? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does Yoshimoto explore the theme of nostalgia in the novel? What does it highlight about our experience of life? </li></ul>
    12. 12. Chronology Activity <ul><li>Ask for student volunteers to be the following events in the novel: Grandmother’s death (2), moving in with the Tanabe family (3), Eriko’s death (5), learning to cook (4), falling in love with Yuichi (6), Eriko’s wife dying of cancer (1), going to Izu (7), giving Yuichi katsudon (8). [the numbers represent the real chronological order of these events] </li></ul><ul><li>Get the students to arrange themselves into the chronological order of events, and then get the two students who represent flashbacks to move to their place in the novel’s order of events. </li></ul><ul><li>What effect does this muddling up of chronology have? What comment does it make on our experience of time? </li></ul><ul><li>Yoshimoto’s muddling of time and reality (the shared dream, feelings of premonition) gives the novel the feel of fantasy? Why might Yoshimoto want her representation of life to have the feel of a dream? </li></ul>
    13. 13. Magic Realism - Dreams <ul><li>We will refer especially to pages 36-41, the shared dream that Mikage and Yuichi experience. </li></ul><ul><li>Yoshimoto is interested in occult experiences, and thus it is no surprise to find such things in her novels. </li></ul><ul><li>The episode has a surreal effect; what is the purpose of this effect? </li></ul>
    14. 14. Mikage on her shared dream experience <ul><li>Examine the quotation below. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ While what had happened was utterly amazing, it didn’t seem so out of the ordinary, really. It was at once a miracle and the most natural thing in the world … in the endless repetition of other nights, other mornings, this moment, too, might become a dream.’ (41) </li></ul><ul><li>Why does Mikage feel the boundary between reality and fantasy is blurred? </li></ul><ul><li>Have you ever had an experience like this? What provoked it? </li></ul>
    15. 15. <ul><li>Mikage often describes her experiences as having a dreamlike quality, as if she doubts the reality of what she experiences. For example she says ‘seemed like a far-off dream’ (99), ‘even if this is a dream’ (99) or ‘the night before seemed like a dream’ (102). </li></ul><ul><li>This feeling of the unreality of life is an important theme in the novel. Why do you think Yoshimoto draws our attention to the fact life can feel like a dream? </li></ul>The unreality of life
    16. 16. Moonlight Shadow <ul><li>In Mikage’s dream Yuichi sings lyrics from a Momoko Sakuchi song. </li></ul><ul><li>With Yuichi, Mikage repeats this lyric: </li></ul><ul><li>A lighthouse in the distance </li></ul><ul><li>To the two of us in the night </li></ul><ul><li>The spinning light looks like </li></ul><ul><li>Sunshine through the branches of trees. </li></ul><ul><li>The final big image of the novella is ‘the beacon of the faraway lighthouse revolved. It turned to me, then it turned away, forming a pathway of light on the waves.’ (104) Right after this Mikage phones Yuichi. </li></ul><ul><li>Both the image of the lighthouse in the lyric and in the main text of novel are connected with Yuichi. What is the purpose of the author’s connection of the song with this last image of light flipping from Mikage to ‘the endless sea … shrouded in darkness’? (104) </li></ul>
    17. 17. Magic Realism - food <ul><li>In Kitchen Japanese cuisine and tea have almost miraculous powers of renewal – the main example being pp. 98-101 when Mikage takes Yuichi the katsudon and drinks the tea he gives her. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ He made tea. I drank it, holding the cup in both hands. Relief at last. I was coming back to life.’ (99) </li></ul><ul><li>Yuichi eating his katsudon , me drinking my tea, the darkness no longer harboring death.’ (101) </li></ul>
    18. 18. Premonitions <ul><li>A more minor, also rather occult idea, is the use of premonitions. This occurs in connection with Yuichi: </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I had an uneasy premonition and it didn’t prove wrong. ’ (95) </li></ul><ul><li>How does this represent Mikage’s growing self-confidence, self-awareness and trust in her intuition? How is it connected to the themes of LOVE and DESTINY? </li></ul><ul><li>Mikage says Yuichi and her share a ‘kind of telepathy’? (65) Is this possible with another person? </li></ul><ul><li>TOK: What is intuition? Should it be trusted? </li></ul>
    19. 19. Plenary <ul><li>What does Yoshimoto’s use of magic realism add to Kitchen ? </li></ul><ul><li>How appealing do you find her use of magic realism, of flashbacks, of symbols like the full moon and kitchens? Explain your reasons. </li></ul>
    20. 20. Homework <ul><li>Take home ONE of the quote sheets on the following groups of symbolic images in the novel: (HANDOUT#3) </li></ul><ul><li>- light and darkness </li></ul><ul><li>- plants and flowers </li></ul><ul><li>- nature </li></ul><ul><li>- pop culture and modernity </li></ul><ul><li>At home read the quotes and write down what ideas/themes each image might represent. </li></ul>