Obasan Analysis: Musical Instruments

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Obasan Literary Analysis By: Emma Joseph For: Mr. Roseman Date: 4/11/2011 Joy Kogawa’s novel, Obasan, is a deeply portrayed novel expressing various themes and symbols. In Kogawa’s novel Obasan, there is that deep symbol of silence which relates to Naomi and portrays the theme of music. The theme of music was put into the novel to portray that the symbol of musical instruments represents the bonding of a family. In Obasan the theme of music would not be portrayed without Naomi’s older sibling, Stephen. However, the one who builds Stephen’s musical love and career is Father. In one of Aunt Emily’s letters to Mother, Aunt Emily says “…Mark… All he thinks about are Stephens’s music lessons. He sent two pages of exercises and a melody he thought up himself…Dad said Stephens’s health is more important than music right now” (113). Throughout the novel, several instruments have been used, by Stephen, to portray the theme of music; some examples are piano, flutes, and violin. Stephen works hard when it comes to music and it would not have happened without his mother or father’s support. The bonding of the Nakane family came from their passionate love for music. Stephen turns out to be the most interested and becomes so attached to music that he has grown more famous than his father. However, his love for music then disconnects him from his family. By the end of the book, Stephen seems to have given up on his Japanese culture and has detached himself from the language; due to the influence of Aunt Emily. Only after Uncles death does Stephen come to see Obasan and Naomi; by this time it has been eight years since Naomi last saw him. Stephen’s passion for music was with him from when he was little and because of it, he grew up to be a famous and a praiseworthy Japanese Canadian. Stephen has played various different instruments in the novel and they all come
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