Running Head: Death
Literature provides an ideal medium through which artists can not only present their thoughts but through which they can also explore their capacities by use of a wide range of styles. Themes are usually at the center stage of the respective literary work, an aspect that is imperative in the development of style too. While these comprise a critical aspect of literature, the major goal of writers is to present the message to the audience in an effective manner. In Kitchen, it is certain that Yoshimoto succeeds in incorporating these intricate factors in her work. She creatively uses Mikage to explore the theme of death, besides analyzing her character and underscoring what she represents in the society. Perhaps the most important aspect pertains to the employment of the first person narrative to evoke relevant response from the audience. It is against this background that this paper provides a critical analysis of the theme of Death in Kitchen. To enhance coherence, this is done in light of Mikage and seeks to analyze what she represents in the society.
Yoshimoto employs Mikage, a young girl, presumably not yet mature, as her protagonist in the novel. Notably, the girl experiences profound despair that can be attributed to the death of her last relative. She confesses “I couldn’t bear it. It oppressed me and I felt like I couldn’t breathe”. This is regardless of the fact that she had assumed cooking in a bit to confront the inherent desperation. The death of her grandmother, the death of Tanabe, was undoubtedly a sure source of extreme pain that was solidly ingrained in her life. This caused her immense suffering and can be used to explain why she perceived the world’s experiences to be overwhelming. “It” is a representation of her perception of the world and granted, she was unable to face the challenges that “it” presented. Arguably, she is a classic representation of the implications of death in the society. In this respect, it is certain death can be a constant source of pain and suffering especially when experienced at a tender age.
The relative pain that Mikage experience makes her appreciate the role of spirituality in her life. Essentially, it is certain that she is a representation of a pagan society, one that does not acknowledge the contribution of the higher power in human life. In this regard, death enabled Mikage to undertake deep questioning with respect to her existence. This is critical, or perhaps imperative, if she was to attain personal freedom. Notably, Yoshimoto cites her severally experiencing difficulty in accepting the influence of the higher power. Her religious confusion is exemplified when she states “I can’t believe in the gods” yet at the same time implores “gods- whether they existed or not, please let me live”. At this point, it can be ascertained that the protagonist lacks a credible religious stand. Again, this explains why she dwells in despair and takes eternity to overcome the pain. In this respect, it should be noted that religion is an instrumental social aspect and a proven source of solace in times of grief. Nonetheless, Mikage searches for answers to her fate and the meaning of the painful experiences from her friends and internal self. Although these provide temporary comfort, consolation and contentment, they do not offer lasting peace that is comparatively sustainable.
Death also makes Mikage lead a lonesome life and makes limited efforts to derive any form of help or solace from the society. Happiness in this regard is posited to be drawn from viable societal relations that provide comforting group environments within which one can find consolation. It is certain that the loss of her relative and guardian had profound effects on her welfare. Seemingly, she drifted in her own world, a world where she did not care to envy the crowds that other women were accustomed to, a world where she dared not think of joining them and a world where she was not interested in “happiness”.
This world was definitely inaccessible to other individual. It made her desire “continue living with the awareness that I will die”. This is irrespective of the fact that she knew this attitude had the capacity to make her despise her life. She perceives life with resentment, a clear indication that she was lonely and lacked sufficient company to help her overcome her grief. This is further perpetuated by her tendency to remain emotionally locked in “her world”. In this respect, Mikage is a model representation of an existential experience. Despite the overwhelming pain and suffering, she still looks forward to attaining joy. Of great reference is the fact that she lives her life honestly, without pretense or self deceit.
Through death and the resultant anguish and affliction that Mikage experiences, she is able to appreciate that the society has a great influence on the life of an individual. She states “we have so little choice…we live like the lowliest worms”. This implies that Mikage believed in premonitions and fate. These are influential and play a critical role in determining the nature of decisions that she makes. It is certain that they are embedded within the societal beliefs, practices and the entire value system. This contributes significantly to her state of desperation that undermines her quality of life by making it difficult for her to experience any form of happiness. Nonetheless, this acts as a wakeup call and later in the text; she acknowledges the importance of free will. This is however compounded by her believe that regardless of the fact that humans can consciously make their personal decisions, these are unconsciously influenced by universal forces such as fate. In this respect, Mikage is a typical illustration of the unending mutual relationship that exists between humans and the society.
From the preceding analysis, it is certain that literature provides an ideal medium through which writers and other artists can relay important messages to the audience. The inherent themes and styles are critical in development of plot and presentation of invaluable information to the audience. In her Kitchen, Yoshimoto employs Mikage as a protagonist and uses her to explore the theme of death. Mikage does not only represent the far reaching implications that death has on individual, but she also informs the reader about the nature of the society within which the story was set. As it has come out from the review, she is a pagan whose decisions are greatly influenced by the society. She indicates that compared to the society, an individual is insignificant and cannot exist on his or her own. Of great reference is her existential experience that enables her to deal with pain, suffering and desperation hopefully.