Valerie Vladianu
6 June 2015
English 1020

Themes and symbolism in “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket”
There are millions of people in the world searching and waiting for their very own true love. Yet sometimes people overlook their true love because they are distracted by all of the people around. Yasunari Kawabata wrote the short story “The Grasshopper and the Bell Cricket” with many themes, including innocence, friendship, love and fate.
The story has a nameless narrator that is a first person observer from a distance. He is still looking for his true love. For example, the story tells us, ““Even when you have become a young man, laugh with pleasure at a girl’s delight when, told that it’s a grasshopper, she is given a bell cricket; laugh with affection at a girl’s chagrin when, told that it’s a bell cricket, she is given a grasshopper”. It sounds like the narrator is giving some advice to a young boy. As he is walking through the area, the narrator is amazed by the lanterns, wide-eyed, loiter[ing] near them.”
The lanterns in the story are symbols for acceptance and for the ordinary. The children commonly use the lanterns for lighting. Some children make handmade customized lanterns and that represents their yearning to be recognized and noticed as who they are. It is interesting that there is a bit of bad suggestion with those children that use lanterns they bought at the store since the other children have created beautiful, original lanterns by themselves because they do not have the money to buy a lantern. They make one by themselves, wishing to be accepted, while at the same time adding little modifies of their own to personalize their lanterns, making them unique. Everyone is searching for acceptance and love.

When the boy gives the girl the bell cricket, it symbolizes how love develops. There is symbolism behind the bell cricket because it is something very rare in the wild, compared to the grasshopper. The boy captivated the girl with his simple gesture of giving her the cricket. The narrator emphasizes how rare it is to find a bell cricket when he says “even if you have the wit to look by yourself in a bush away from the other children, there are not many bell crickets in the world.” Grasshoppers can symbolize the average, everyday romantic find, but in the case of bell crickets, they are truly an important find. When the narrator says “And finally, to your clouded, wounded heart, even a true bell cricket will seem like a grasshopper” he probably means that you don’t appreciate what you have until it is gone or until it is too late. The grasshopper can symbolize a girl for whom a boy would be fine to settle but a bell cricket is a girl with whom a boy would fall in love, like a soul mate. Ordinary love exists everywhere but special and unique true love seldom comes across. The boy offers affection to the girl but they are still innocent. He might not even understand the attraction as romantic.
The narrator is giving advice to a young boy because he observed the innocent and pure children from afar. He has experience and has acquired wisdom but he longs for their innocence. The moment where the boy shares the cricket with the girl is not necessarily a romantic moment in their eyes. The narrator wishes for their hearts not to become wounded and clouded by the world. He is speaking from experience as he is more sophisticated and knowledgeable yet he is on his own path to find true love still.