Discussion Questions:
The story “Punishment” focuses on the theme of truth and lies. What does the story have to say about the theme of truth and lies? Take into consideration the social context of the story. To help you generate ideas, you may consider one of the following questions as you develop your points: Why is a lie perceived as the truth? What influences our perception of truth? What are the implications in terms of justice? Can a lie tell a truth? Do characters reveal some deeper truths with their lies? How so? How do we attain truth or self-knowledge? Is there truth independent of human mind? Make sure you explain how specific examples (literary elements or literary devices) bring out the message.
Symbols are objects or events in the story that stand for some universal qualities or ideas. Objects or events may gain new meanings within the context of the story that go beyond their original or literal meaning. One such symbol in “Separate Ways” is the kimono that Okyo promises to make for Kichizo. What is the meaning of the kimono in the story? Does the kimono help bring out a specific theme in the story? Find another symbol in the story and consider its significance – what it means and what theme it helps bring out.
Higuchi Ichiyo was a great admirer of classical Japanese literature. To honor her love for classical literary form, try your hand at tanka, a traditional Japanese poem. Write a tanka poem based on a theme from “Separate Ways.” Briefly introduce the theme of your tanka and explain how specific images or other literary devices in your tanka help illustrate your theme. Be sure to follow the strict pattern for tanka poems of 31 syllables in 5 lines of 5/7/5/7/7 syllables per line.
What’s a Tanka Poem?
Tanka (Links to an external site.) is a traditional Japanese poetic form that emerged in the eighth century. Just like haiku that you have probably studied in high school, tanka is a short poem that expresses a deep feeling or idea through vivid, suggestive images. Tanka was particularly popular among courtiers and literary authors who sometimes exchanged letters in tanka form. Tanka consists of 31 syllables  (Links to an external site.)arranged in 5 lines in the following pattern 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. Here is a contemporary example:
Line 1 (5 syllables) Blossoms floating down
Line 2 (7 syllables) Through the tangled canopy
Line 3 (5 syllables) Treetops wave unseen;
Line 4 (7 syllables) Jade green ricebowls, his and hers
Line 5 (7 syllables) On the petal tatami (Links to an external site.).
H. F. Noyes
If you need additional examples of tanka, search online; there are many sites devoted to this kind of poetry!

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