Family Representation in the Lives of the Kimoto Family in “The River Ki”
The novel, “The River Ki”, represents and accurately portrays three generations of a declining traditional family and how it changed in the modern world by spanning over sixty years, before, during and after World War II (1900-1960). The three generations represented by Hana who is seen as the apple of Toyono Kimoto’s eye (her grandmother) is raised and bred as a traditional Japanese woman, is married and gives birth to Fumio. Fumio is the next generation who despite Hana's efforts and wishes, rebels against the traditional arts and culture of her upbringing and ultimately her own ...view middle of the document...
Fumio is portrayed as a modern, educated girl of the twenties being athletic but she forsakes her kimono and marries for love and later she and her husband travel abroad. This portrays the disingenuous early start of Japanese families’ expansionism and their westernization. It also depicts the varied conflicts that are presented to tradition and the acceptance or rejection of modernity. Over time, various changes occur such as the main characters dying and one learns about it several years later only due to a small passing reference which is not the norm in many unusual with most modern novels that mostly revolve around a single protagonist's fate. Another change in the Kimoto family is also in seen when we look at Hana who held tradition and superstition so dear and it is easy to see that she is frustrated by her role and her deep sense of duty. Her daughter, Fumio, on the other hand bursts out with intelligent, modern and quite enthusiasm that is deviating from the norm. Her acts throughout the novel such as her feminism, rejecting of the tea ceremony, playing the koto and flower arranging including taking up instead bicycle riding show how constant change. She is seen telling her mother that she is so hopelessly old-fashioned and that she is making herself an enemy of all Japanese women by keeping her in shackles (Ariyoshi 120). This is a clear depiction of the changes that are taking place to the Kimoto family. Hana's husband, being a politician, is a mover and shaker, but for some reason that seems to be irrelevant to the world of home and family. Fumio’s daughter, Hanako, builds a relationship with her grandmother and it is through this relationship that we see a respectful blending of the old and the new customs which is yet another change in the family.
Importance or Meaning of Family to the Characters
A lot of meaning is attached to family throughout the read and this is on different levels.
Your father once said that he wish you had been a boy. Seiichiro had disappointed him relatively early. After that I did all I could do to see that Seiichiro did not disgrace the family. Fumio I felt so lonely when you ignored my efforts (Ariyoshi 235).
This is one instance where the importance of family is clearly depicted. Hana had been trying very hard after her Keisaku, her husband died to keep her eldest son Seiichiro as the head male of the family. Hana clearly felt hurt, because her daughter Fumio doesn’t see the hard work that she had been trying to do to keep their family together. Her utterances are highly figurative and the language descriptive, because in detail, it describes how Hana had been feeling das she dealt with the issues of trying to keep her family together, and at the same time attempting to stay close to her daughter Fumio. Family value is also seen where it is described to Hanako that the Meiji and Taisho eras of the family have come to a close with their grandfather's death (Ariyoshi 191). This is an example of how...