Symbolism in Shizuko's Daughter

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As Shizuko acts out her tragedy in the first scene, many of the important symbols of the following story are introduced. First, there is nature, which serves as a backdrop and an influence for the characters and their emotions. Dreamily, Shizuko thinks of "white cherry blossom petals that were blowing about in the wind." She remembers the "rainy morning" of her mother-in-law's death, while the smell of gas "reminded her of the tiny yellow flowering weeds that had grown near her parents' house." In this first scene, there are also several references to clothing, such as Yuki's "pink spring dress," and the pieces of cloth from Yuki's new skirt, which remind her of "butterfly wings." Near her end, Shizuko imagines Yuki in this new skirt, which would flutter in the wind "like the sail of a new ship." Throughout the remainder of the novel, these particular symbols — nature, flowers, and clothing — appear again and again, serving as markers that connect the present moment of the characters to this major emotional event of the past. One day after her mother's death, clothing begins to symbolize the drastic change that has just occurred in Yuki's life. Her Aunt Aya begins folding her mother's clothes, which "hung limp," representing death. Yuki has also seen the clothing for the new dress her mother had been making, which leads her to question why the suicide happened. Things no longer fit correctly in Yuki's world, down to the fact that she cannot pick the correct clothes for the funeral. As her aunt goes through her clothes to find an appropriate dress, Yuki feels "utterly humiliated." Yuki understands that her life has irrevocably changed when she cannot bring herself to zip up her new dress, and she finally collapses in her closet of clothes. A year later, at her father's wedding, Yuki is still plagued by this ill-fitting event: the dress she wears makes her itch. Throughout the rest of the story, clothing remains a central symbol connecting the present to the past,...
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