The setting of this story is a neighborhood at night. The story is given from the narrator’s perspective. For some reason, he is walking along near a University. He is walking along at night, when he notices something peculiar. As he is going through the neighborhood, he hears the sound of a grasshopper. This is not unusual, grasshoppers always make sound on warm summer nights. But there is also a child. And the child is searching for the grasshopper. The narrator thinks little of it, until the next night. The following evening, the narrator notices that the child is again there, along with another child who is accompanying him in his search the grasshopper. The next night, there is an additional child, and the night after that still another. This trend continues for nights on end, with more and more children joining the search for the grasshopper as each night passes. “This new child could not buy a lantern” (The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket, 513). As more and more children join the search, they have to share and design make shift lanterns to assist each other.
This story takes place in Japan. The writer was from Japan and puts a lot of his culture into his writing. This is apparent by the many different elements of his culture that he incorporates into his writing. For instance, there is the specific reference to the Grasshopper and bell cricket. But most important is the allusion of the lanterns. These are an historic and important part of Japanese culture.
In regards to things I intend to investigate, I will research exactly what the status and importance of the universities were at that time. If they were excellent, perhaps the writer did not believe in classical knowledge and education, preferring practical lessons learned from simple people more. If the Universities at the time were poor, the writer’s intention could simply be that truth and knowledge can be found in easy ways, even when it cannot be found sufficiently in the places where one would tend to look.
Another thing worth looking into is the status of children at the time. Were they free to go gallivanting off like they do in the story? If so, then the actions of the children in this story show bliss, freedom and carefreeness. If so, then their actions call us to behave in a similar manner. If children were kept under tight wraps at the time, and the ones in this story were truants or orphans, then it is quite clear that the author is telling us a radically different message; a message that tells us to behave in a certain way, but which may or may not be in keeping with acceptable practice, or even the law for that matter. Whatever the case, this is a story that has undeniable undertones, morals, themes and messages. And this is the mark of a good story, one which gives the reader something deep, meaningful and lasting to think about. Other stories do not do this. They simply wonder along, without often without either a plot or a purpose. But this story has both. It conveys meaning to the reader. Deep meaning, which, while it may not be clear at first, is all the more valuable when attained. While this story may seem dated to some, as well as irrelevant to others, neither of these is that case. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is precisely its age which helps to teach us truths which we may have lost today, and precisely its setting which aid in delivering those truths. If anyone reads this story, it will be impossible for that person to read it without grasping some sense of the underlying meaning in some way.
- Kawabata, Yasunari. (1924) “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket.”