The main character of the story “The Big Wave” by Pearl S. Buck felt life’s injustice in many different ways. Jiya is a happy child who learned from his father’s wisdom. He knew he had to respect the forces of nature, sea, air and earth because once those forces unite they do not pick the time or place to start the destruction. Despite being young, he suffers a great lost. Jiya is resilient, and he made his choices about his future. He had to chose between richness and poverty, and he chose the harder way and kept going the path’s his father, whom he loved and appreciated, walked.
Sometimes money can’t be a measurement of happiness. The brave Jiya knew it when he decided to take Kino’s father up on his offer to raise him as his son. Jiya’s dedication to his work helped him overcome de death of his parents and brother. The love and attachment ruling in the house of Kino’s parents help him keep the memory of his parents alive. Even though he grew up as a farmer’s adopted son, he never forgot that fishing was in his blood.
Many years after losing his parents Jiya decided to go back to the sea and shore. He was dedicated and hard working, so he was able to buy a boat and make a new house with the view of the ocean because he was ready for the big wave to come again.
It took many years for this boy to overcome his fear and pain over his lost childhood. A lot of love, attention and understanding helped him survive and grow up to be a good and hardworking man without losing his faith in life. One unselfish love can help us in the hardest moments and gives us the boost we need to let the best of us come to the surface and make us a person worthy of respect. If we add good memories of people we love to that love, we can paint the picture of a happy life. Jiya didn’t allow sadness to take the wheel. He picked up the pieces of his broken childhood and made his dream a reality.
“The Big Wave” is a beautiful story which carries many morals. One of the best lessons is the saying of an simple old man who didn’t fear the nature: “This is our home. No matter how dangerous it is it’s the place where we were born.”
We can wander the world, but our heart stays in our hometown because home is the most beautiful place in the world.
Theme: struggle for life and survival
Place: Japanese shore
Time: beginning of the 20th century
Japan is a country of many beautiful mountains and shores. It is surrounded by the mysterious, beautiful and blue ocean. On the mountain ridge lived the farmers. Kino was a boy living in one of the farms. Kino’s home was at the top of the reef. Every time he had to walk from the lowest field he would come back home tired but grateful because the view was spectacular.
The sea had all shades of blue. On the shore was a small fisherman’s village where Kino’s family sold rice and bought fish. Jiya lived in the village and he and Kino were best friends. Jiya didn’t find the sea to be beautiful and he was quite afraid of it. When the sea would get restless his father couldn’t go fishing. Also the sea would cause great damages with its big waves. The boys would often, after a day of hard work, swim to a small island they called their own. It was actually owned by an old man who they saw only from a distance. He was old and had many wrinkles. They admired his gardens and sand beach. While they would be on the island they would feed the animals. Both of them loved the ocean. Every now and then they would dive in and when they would reach the cold sea level they would realize all over again that the sea is a mysterious place they should respect. They collected shells for their mothers to decorate their flowers with. They also loved walking through the forest and explore caves.
One day they forgot about the time. The sun was setting and when they came to the shore they encountered Jiya’s worried father. It was the first time Jiya saw his father disapproving of his actions. Kino came to the conclusion that Jiya’s father was afraid of the sea. They both went home. When Kino got home he told his parents about Jiya’s father being worried. Kino’s father was a wise man and he warned his son that people can’t understand a force as big as the sea. Kino came to a conclusion that he at least doesn’t have to fear the earth but once again his father gave him a few words of wisdom. He reminded him about the nearby volcano. He taught his son that when all the forces of nature unite a catastrophe occurs and told him: “Enjoy life without fearing death – it’s the path for a good Japanese”.
During the summer months, Kino would help his father with planting rice, so he didn’t have a lot of time to spend with Jiya. Jiya was also helping his father fishing. When Kino didn’t have to plant rice, he would go fishing with Jiya and his father. Such experiences made children grow and gain more respect for our planet and nature. The children would talk to Jiya’s father about fishing, farming and the link between Earth and sea.
After a hard day, a volcano started raging. Everyone was on guard that night. The next morning ashes fell all over the houses. Everyone was scared of an earthquake. The older people said that there was a fire burning inside and that the earth was fighting it. Usually, a pleasant wind would blow, but that day everything was quiet and terrifyingly beautiful.
The next afternoon at the top of the old man’s castle a red flag rose and it was supposed to warn the people about the great danger. The air got extremely hot, bells started ringing to warn the people they need to evacuate the village and go into the high mountains where they would be safe but there was one problem – they were unwilling to leave their homes. Kino wanted Jiya to come to their house so he wouldn’t be in danger. He took a piece of white fabric and started waving it in hopes Jiya will see it and come to him. Jiya’s parents and older brother came to the conclusion that they have to go and ask Kino’s parents for refugee. When Jiya started climbing the mountain the bell rang again. People who didn’t have a clear view of the sea didn’t know what was going on. The ocean rose high above and in a blink of an eye everything was over.
The small fisherman village was erased from the face of the Earth. There was nothing left. The horror made Jiya pass out. His parents, brother and home weren’t there anymore. kino started crying over his friend’s sad faith. When they got Jiya into the house they all gathered around him. Kino’s father sat by him and Kino’s mother rubbed his hands and feet. Kino was scared for Jiya because he didn’t know what he will say to him when he wakes up. He couldn’t just let his best friend know he was an orphan. His father decided not to tell anything to Jiya and that they should accept and love him. He decided to make Jiya a part of their family. Kino was scared his friend will never be happy again and his father explained that it will take time for Jiya to feel happiness again because now he had to go through the grieving stage. Jiya will probably lose all need to speak but they decided to be there by his side so he would feel loved and accepted. Kino’s father knew that Jiya will overcome the sadness one day.
After the big wave the sea calmed down and the skies were clear. No one was guilty for the accident because they just come and go. Many days passed since the accident. Jiya still wasn’t completely recovered. He didn’t want to think, feel or remember. He just wanted to sleep. Kino and his father talked a lot during Jiya’s period of grieve. They talked about life and death, life’s dangers, love people felt for their children and many other subjects. All of the sudden they saw a light. It was the old gentleman coming to check up on Jiya. Kino’s father didn’t allow his to wake Jiya up with the promise he’ll send the boy to his castle the next day. After every big wave the old gentleman had the need to check up on everyone. He heard Jiya was a good boy and he wanted to adopt him. Kino’s world was shaken up. He was afraid he would never have another adventure with his best friend if Jiya decides to go and live with the old gentleman.
After Jiya had talked to Kino’s father about his options, he had to decide where will he live. His options were to go with the wealthy old gentleman or to stay on the farm. Kino’s father explained the perks of wealth and poverty to him. The next day both of the boys were in tears, but they were crying out of happiness. Jiya didn’t need to make a choice because he had never entered the castle or enjoyed the life in it. He knew what poverty was and he was used to it – it was a poor but honest life. Kino was asked by his father not to influence Jiya’s decision. Jiya had to make it on his own and Kino was just his support. The boys went to the castle.
In the beautiful garden, they were greeted by the gardener who then took them to the old gentleman. They entered the richness of the castle and didn’t know what to admire first. Kino was convinced he was losing his best friend. When they saw the old gentleman, he was writing something down. The old gentleman didn’t beat around the bush and he straight forward asked Jiya if he wanted to be his son and Jiya gave a negative answer. He said his home was the farm.
Kino’s face was filled with happiness. After that, he got a bit sad because he had promised his father he will do his best to make his friend’s life easier and better. He warned Jiya about their poverty. Jiya didn’t understand why the old gentlemen wanted precisely him to be his son. The old gentleman said he heard great thing about him, but Jiya didn’t see himself to be superior to all the other kids who lost their parents in the accident. When Kino’s father found out Jiya was staying with them he was happy because he got a new son and Kino got a brother.
After a lot of time happiness came back to Jiya’s life. He felt the unselfish love from four people who accepted him into their home. Years passed by. Two restless boys became two beautiful young men that were still bound by friendship. Kino’s sister Setsu became a beautiful girl. Everyone’s life changed after the big wave. The shore was inhabited for years despite being the best fishing place. People moved around and made houses on new shores.
Jiya often looked for memories of his house, and he hoped one day that the sea will throw something to the shore, but his hopes were for nothing. One day everyone got surprised with Jiya’s shout. Someone was building a house on the shore. They came down to see what was happening. Some kids came back and built up walls of a new house where they old house was.
The dear of the big wave disappeared gradually. People lived with the thought that it can happen again but that it also might never happen again. Jiya’s memories of his family’s death came back. The big wave took them away from him, but it never took away his memories. He wasn’t a little boy anymore, and he knew how to deal with his sadness. He always looked forward to spending time with Setsu.
The old gentleman came to the shore and he was furious because the people were abandoning the safety of his castle to come down and live on the shore again. He warned Jiya about the big wave coming back and Jiya told him that his castle wasn’t safe either because an earthquake could destroy it. Jiya knew that in the case of another accident, the old gentlemen would help everyone. Later that day, after seeing the first house being rebuilt, Jiya felt unease and it went on for a few days. Kino’s father knew something was wrong. After talking to Jiya he found out his adopted son wanted to go back to the shore and he wanted to be a fisherman. He wanted to build his own wooden house next to all of the others on the shore. Kino’s father decided to pay him for his work. After some time Jiya had enough money to buy a small boat. The two friends sat in it and went fishing.
While they were in the boat, they started talking. Jiya was worried Setsu wouldn’t want to live on the shore. Kino was surprised that Jiya thought his sister would have to live on the shore. Kino was never in love so it was strange to him that someone fancied his sister so much that he would want to marry her. He never understood how beautiful and grownup his sister was. Jiya even said he liked eating her rice, even when it burns. Kino couldn’t get the surprised look off of his face.
Jiya and Setsu got married. Kino still couldn’t believe it. He just kept on saying to Jiya that he was sorry. After the weeding, they moved to the house on the shore. Kino was scared of another big wave but Jiya was ready for it. When they moved into their house, Jiya moved a big wall and in front of their eyes was the wavy ocean. The sun was setting, and it bathed the sky in gold and red colors. Jiya held the ocean on the palm of his hand. They started their new life hoping the ocean will be kind and merciful.
Characters: Jiya, Kino, Satsu, Kino’s parents, the old gentleman, Jiya’s family
Kino was a farmer’s child. He lived with his mother, father, and sister in a small house at the top of the ridge next to which were their fields. When he worked the lower fields, he would get tired of climbing back up but the view was worth it. He respected the ocean, especially after becoming friends with Jiya, a fisherman’s son. Kino was curious and drove his father crazy with many questions to which he would always receive wise and smart answers. He loved swimming to a nearby island with his friend where they would collect shells for their mothers. Kino loved Jiya and he had many adventures with him.
Jiya is Kino’s best friend. He loved his family and lived with them in a house on the shore, near the ocean. His father was a fisherman. Jiya was a good and a loyal friend. He loved to swim, loved the sea and he respected and feared it. He even considered the sea an enemy because of its strong waves which prevented his father from going fishing. The boys heard numerous stories about big waves that destroy everything. After a big wave torn down the fisherman’s village and destroyed many lives, Jiya became a different boy. The numb pain from losing his family made his grow up fast. It took him a lot of time to accept his family’s death. Besides his family, his favorite people in the whole wide world were Kino and Setsu. Kino was his best friend and he thought Setsu was the most beautiful girl in the whole world. Jiya grew up wanting to be a fisherman like his father. He built up his house right where his old house was.
Setsu was Kino’s younger sister, and she was very loyal to her family. She helped her mother with the house work, and she also helped her father in the fields. She teased everyone around her, especially her brother. Setsu was carefree, stubborn and witty. She found happiness with Jiya, married him and decided to live with him in the fisherman’s village.
The old gentleman was the owner of a castle and the beautiful island to which the boys always swam. He loved to walk around with his hand behind on his back. He never left his island, except if there was an emergency. When danger was coming, he would put up a red flag on the top of his castle to warn the people. After the big wave, he helped the families get back on their feet and provided them with food and shelter on his island. He wanted to adopt Jiya, raise him and put his through school.
Kino’s father was a farmer and the most important thing for him was his family. He was strong and though. The hard work made him very muscular. He was also a wise man who helped the boys make the right choices in their struggles.
Pearl S. Buck Biography
Pearl Sydenstricker Buck was born in Hillsboro in 1892. She was an American writer who spent most of her life in China and Japan because her parents were Presbyterian missionaries. She learned Chinese prior to English, her mother language. She is also well known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzu.
Her novel “The Good Earth” was the bestselling book in the USA during 1931 and 1932 and it won her a Pulitzer Award. She got a Nobel Prize for literature in 1938 for her descriptions of life in China and biographical works. After returning to the USA in 1935, she kept on writing and became a spokeswoman for women’s and minority’s rights. She wrote a lot about Asian cultures.
In 1914 she came back to China, married John L. Buck, and they moved to Suzhou, a small city on the Huai river. She worked as a professor in Nanking University, and she taught English literature. After some loses, she came back to the USA in 1935 and she divorced the same year.
She died on March 6th, 1973 from lung cancer in Vermont.
Her famous works are: “East Wind:West Wind”, “Dragon Seed”, “The Promise”, “Pavilion of Women”, “The Big Wave” and “The House of Earth”; a trilogy made out of “The Good Earth”, “Sons”, “A House Divided”.