WorldLit1 - Story Helix by Banana Yoshimoto(Japan...

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Story: “Helix” by Banana Yoshimoto (Japan) Family/Gender Roles: “Helix” is a piece with a romantic feel to it. The two characters having a drink in an empty café, and talking about their relationship has a sentimental air about it. First, the narrator and his girlfriend fit into the traditional gender roles, as the narrator says at the end, they are the “archetypal couple” (655). In the beginning the narrator seems to not put as much stock in their relationship as the woman. It is the woman who “holds the key” both for their way into the café and also for the relationship. The narrator does not realize until the very end how much he loves his girlfriend. He goes so far as to compare their relationship to Adam and Eve, calling themselves the archetypal couple and the original man and woman (655). As her boyfriend panics about the seminar she is going to, she calms him, just like any wife would do. However, it is the man who shifts from not wanting to know too much about a woman because then he will have to break up with her (650), to a man who paints the beautiful imagery of a relationship being like a double helix, spiraling on forever (655). This shows a softer side to the man and reaffirms his love for his girlfriend. Economic Concerns: On the economic end of the story is the almost complete unimportance of the bomb. Perhaps the strangest part of this story is a bomb that has gone off (654). For a bomb, there is very little damage other than to the building. There is glass raining down but no one is injured. Since it is late at night there are no people out except the narrator and his girlfriend. Because Tokyo is a very busy and business operated city it is very odd to see them alone. However, the bomb could serve as more than a symbol for the couple and their love. The bomb could be destroying the more modern and industrialized Tokyo and trying to revert back to a time where they were not so important. The material objects in the story are damaged but things like the concept of love remain unscathed. Urban/Rural Lifestyle: While “Helix” is set in a present day- and thus fairly urban- Tokyo, the solitude of the characters and the tone of the story almost feel rural in nature. Right after the bomb goes off the girlfriend notes that they are the only ones that witness the explosion happen (654). For a city as large as Tokyo, it is very unlikely that the streets would not have at least some traffic in them at all times of the day. Thus, the author has deliberately placed the characters in a more peaceful and serene setting than would be typically found in an urban setting. This adds to the romantic feel of the story and is very reminiscent of how young lovers tend to feel themselves the only ones in the room.
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