Characters

The main characters of the short story “A Family Supper” by Kazuo Ishiguro are the narrator, the narrator’s father, and the narrator’s sister, Kikuko. In the short story, several other characters who are mentioned are the narrator’s mother, Kikuko’s boyfriend, and Watanabe’s family.

The narrator

The narrator is also the protagonist of the short story. He is not depicted regarding outer characterisation; the only thing that we know about him is that he has been living in California for several years and that he has lost connection with his family during that time:

“At the time of my mother's death, I was living in California. My relationship with my parents had become somewhat strained around that period, and consequently I did not learn of the circumstances surrounding her death until I returned to Tokyo two years later.” 

Inner characterisation

When it comes to the narrator’s inner characterisation, everything we find out about him comes either from his dialogue with his father or sister or from the way he depicts them. For instance, we find out that he used to fear to upset his father when he was little:

“In fact, as I sat opposite him that afternoon, a boyhood memory came back to me of the time he had struck me several times around the head for 'chattering like an old woman'. Inevitably, our conversation since my arrival at the airport has been punctuated by long pauses.” 

 

The above fragment reveals that has a sort of formal respect for his father, whom he sees as a traditional figure whom he must not upset. What is more, this feeling is enhanced by the fact that he had disappointed his parents when he moved to America, destroying their dreams that their children would follow the tradition of settling in Japan. Moving to California has made him detach both physically and emotionally from his parents. As a consequence, he cannot even recognise his mother in a photograph:

“'Who is that? In that photograph there?'
'Which photograph?' My father turned slightly, trying to follow my gaze.
'The lowest one. The old woman in the white kimono.'
My father put down his chopsticks. He looked first at the photograph, then at me.
'Your mother.' His voice had become very hard. 'Can't you recognize your ow...

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