Written by students of FC1750.06
at Founders College, York University
Jennifer Henry: The images of water have negative connotations, suggesting death and pain. The cold drizzle at the beginning of the novel reminds Etsuko of her friend's drowning of the kittens. As well, Sachiko's daughter runs away via a bridge over the water which symbolizes pain as well as a trap -- America -- from which she tries to escape.
Kevin Perkins: Kazuo Ishiguro effectively uses water imagery in his portrayal of Mariko, who escapes from the dismal world in which she lives to find solace in the woods. The only way to reach the forest, where no one else goes, is to cross a small bridge that spans a river. Is this why Etsuko left Japan, crossed the water, and moved to England?
Han Ki: The water imagery is associated with death and suffering. The drizzly cold April brings back Etsuko's memories of her daughter who has committed suicide, of her friend who drowns the kittens in front of a vulnerable child, and of Mariko who escapes to the river whenever she is sad. As well, in the atomic aftermath, Nagasaki is muddy and damp with rivers flooding all over the fields.
Daniel Jacobs: Water in Ishiguro's novel can represent danger and sadness, but it is also a dividing line between sickness and health. At the beginning of the novel we see that rain brings back to Etsuko, now in England, memories of her daughter Keiko's suicide and how she hung from a noose for several days.
But water can also be thought of as an escape. This becomes apparent when Etsuko crosses over the bridge in Nagasaki to find a safe haven in the aftermath of the atomic holocaust. Similarly, the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean stands as a bridge between the horror of Nagasaki and peace in the West.
Copyright © 1996 by the author. Information from this article should be attributed to the author.