Life, Death, Love, Meaning. A creative look into Fumiko Enchi's "Kitchen"

Essay by this_is_me96University, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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People are searching to attain the central most important thing of each individual, which is to attain happiness. Happiness is something that cannot be specifically explained, but its universal meaning is understood by all. I do not believe that humans will ever be totally and completely happy because that is human nature. This world is full of love and joy. But if we are realistic, we know that life is not always that way. To find happiness we need to move beyond this point of view and see how the negatives in the world make the positives all the more positive.

If one were to conduct a survey of one hundred random people posing the question of the meaning of life, the answers given would vary drastically among those questioned. The most popular answer, however cliché, would most likely be, "to find love." From the time that we are infants we are shown, as well as told, stories that finish "...happily

ever after". The feelings that are associated with these mental images make us feel light-hearted and genuinely happy inside. Therefore, we base happiness and sometimes success on the love that we receive from others throughout life. It is not until we are left alone in the world that we discover what it truly takes to find the will to survive, and the appreciation and love for life.

In the story, Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, Mikage Sakurai is a young woman who has just lost her grandmother, her last living relative, and serendipitously finds a new "family" when Yuichi Tanabe and his mother Eriko invite her to live with them. The story weaves around Mikage's growing sense of safety and attachment to this unusual family. Yuichi's own coming of age issues as a young man. And Eriko's unconventional life...