The first time I read "A Family Supper" by Kazuo Ishiguro, it appeared to be a simple story about a son who comes home after being gone for a few years, who talks about recent family events, and rehashes old memories from childhood with his father and sister while waiting for supper to be prepared. After reading it again I realized however, that Ishiguro hid vital foreshadowing within the plot using dialogue, symbolism, and description. These important clues are not apparent at the time, but they reveal their significance at the story's end.
The first few lines of the story set the stage for the entire work: "Fugu is a fish caught off the shores of Japan. The fish has held a special significance for me ever since my mother died through eating one" (338). If he were to stop right there and contemplate the relevance of this sentence directly following the title, "A Family Supper", the reader could predict the entire plot of the work . But casual readers don't usually do this, so by placing this foreshadowing in the opening paragraph, Ishiguro allows plenty of room for other events in the story to occur before he brings "fish" back into the story.
After the narrator informs us of the circumstances surrounding his mother's death, we are taken to his father's tea-room, where father and son have their first complete conversation. Although the reader is not yet aware of the importance of this
connection, Ishiguro shows the reader that Father is just as likely to kill his family, and commit suicide as his former business partner Watanabe was. Ishiguro sets this up through dialogue between Father and the narrator. Lines such as, "We were partners for seventeen years. A man of princ...
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...crucial to the story`s plot. However, the reader must be looking for this foreshadowing, because after all, it is a supper scene.
Hidden within the dialogue that takes place during this supper is another vital clue. The narrator opens the pot and says, "What is it?." "Fish," the father responds. They all fill their bowls, and the father insists that his son take more. They all begin eating, and then the son asks once more, "What is it?." "Just fish" (344), Father replies. Ishiguro implies through Father`s vagueness that the mystery fish is Fugu.
By hiding foreshadowing within the plot using dialogue, symbolism, and description, Ishiguro writes a seemingly innocent story, but intertwines a sinister twist within it .
Ishiguro, Kazuo. "A Family Supper. Art of The Story, edited by Daniel Halpern. NY: Penguin Publishing, 2000. 338-345
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