Kira Kira: Novel Summary:chapter 13-16
Katie’s parents are exhausted from hard work and fall behind on their bills. Sammy and Katie sleep in the same room as Lynn because she has to have someone there all the time. The strain of helping to fill Lynn’s every need takes a toll on Katie. She hardly sleeps and at one point gets so exasperated she quarrels with Lynn. That night Katie is in despair.
For Thanksgiving weekend, Uncle takes Sammy, Katie, his family, Silly, and a land-surveyor named Jedda-Boy, on a camping trip. Uncle doesn’t know the way to Jedda-Boy’s favorite campsite and at one point their truck gets stuck near the edge of a cliff. At another point Lynn leans against the door and falls out of the truck but is unhurt.
At the campsite the children play a game of hunter and hunted with their water guns. At night they sit around a fire. Katie learns that Uncle Katsuhisa will never become a land surveyor even though he wants to, because no one will hire a Japanese man for the job.
At New Year, which is a big holiday occasion for the Japanese, Katie goes to Mrs. Muramoto’s party for only a short while. She has to return to sit with Lynn. Lynn tells her she must try to get better grades. Lynn’s skin has taken on a ghostly white look. She watches a moth flying around the room. Then she sleeps.
Just before sunrise Katie goes outside with a blanket. She cries and feels a great sadness. She falls asleep and when she awakes her father is carrying her into the house. He tells her that Lynn has died.
As Lynn’s condition deteriorates, Katie goes through yet another learning experience. She knows what it is like to feel grief, and for a while she wonders if anyone else has ever felt such sadness. Then she realizes that millions of people, past and present, must have felt similar grief over loved ones lost to war. In other words, she is not alone. Her feelings are not unique. This understanding is a vast step in her growing maturity, and she realizes it as such: “I felt like I was no longer a little girl but had become a big girl” (p. 200).
Katie cannot comprehend that Lynn is gone. No one was with her when she died. Katie wishes she had not gone out.
Preparations begin for the funeral. The family saves all the mementoes of Lynn they can find. Katie ties a lock of her own hair around Lynn’s neck. People come to the house all day, and Lynn’s body is taken away. Katie sobs.
In the evening, the family has a meal together, and Sammy’s father notices that the boy is still limping from the injury caused by the trap. He is angry and tells Katie to show him where the trap is. They drive out to Mr. Lyndon’s property and Katie shows her father where they had the picnic. He tells her to wait in the car. When he returns he throws something into the trunk. Then they drive to Mr. Lyndon’s house, where her father takes out a plank of wood and smashes the windshield of Mr. Lyndon’s Cadillac. They drive to the next town and pull over. A sheriff’s car approaches and the sheriff questions Katie’s father. There has been a report of an incident at Mr. Lyndon’s house. But the description the police have of the car involved does not match the one Katie’s father is driving, so the policeman does not detain them. They go to a restaurant, where Katie eats tacos.
That evening Katie cleans the kitchen without being asked. She misses Lynn, who would have told her how to do it all.
Mr. Takeshima is usually a quiet man who obeys the rules in life. Whatever frustrations he has, he just endures them. But the combination of Lynn’s death and the sight of his son limping again from the injury he suffered in the trap is too much for him and he behaves in a way that is out of character for him. The man who has little and is under strain hits out against the property of the man who appears to have everything and whose trap injured a little boy. Mr. Takeshima is lucky to get away with it, saved only by the inaccurate description the police receive about the type of car the perpetrator is driving. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this incident is what it reveals about Katie’s growing maturity. She understands her father’s normally placid temperament very well, and the fact that his sole aim in life is to provide a living for his family. But she also recognizes the strain he is under and the fact that “he could not accept the way his life was turning out” (p. 210). It is this that makes him lose control and smash Mr. Lyndon’s car.
All the Japanese people from the town come to the funeral. So do Lynn’s teacher from school, Silly and her mother, and Hank Garvin and his family. Katie gives a speech in which she pays tribute to Lynn.
Later, the urn containing Lynn’s ashes is buried and people throw flowers in with it. After that everyone returns to the family home to eat. Katie sits alone in the bedroom and cries. Uncle finds her and she confesses to him about how once she was angry with Lynn even when she was sick. Uncle tells her that his first son died as an infant, and once he had wanted to smother him with a pillow to put him out of his misery. He says that when someone is dying, people have crazy thoughts, and Katie should not feel guilty about telling Lynn she hated her.
A week after the funeral Katie turns in an essay at school in which she writes about Lynn and the ways she had of bringing out how amazing the world is.
The key moment in this chapter is the exchange between Uncle and Katie. Up to now, Uncle has sometimes been almost a clownish figure, but here he shows great skill in handling Katie at a time of grief and self-reproach. He knows how to listen and what comments to make to her. This involves him in recalling a painful memory of his own, which he is willing to do in order to give Katie some perspective on her situation. His advice to her, “Don’t feel guilty,” is sound and helpful to her. Uncle also helps her cope with the next few weeks by telling her to collect a box of Lynn’s belongings and make an altar to her.
The family creates a little altar for Lynn on her desk. Her uncle has told her that in some Buddhist belief, the spirit of a person does not leave the earth for forty-nine days after the body dies. So Katie keeps Lynn’s favorite water glass full and leaves her a bowl of rice every day.
Her parents continue their lives without joy and with some regrets. Katie gets sick of the monotonous food her mother serves and begins to cook the family meals herself. On the forty-ninth day after Lynn’s death, Katie opens all the windows to help release her spirit. A leaf blows in and Katie thinks it is a sign from Lynn. She cries but makes herself stop because she thinks Lynn might be able to see her and that would make her unhappy and she would not want to leave the earth.
Katie works harder at school and starts to get better grades. On her twelfth birthday, her father takes her and Silly to Lynn’s grave. They plant some flowers and the girls perform a dance. When they return Katie’s father asks them to help him remove Lynn’s bed from the bedroom, to give Sammy and Katie more room.
Then Katie’s father asks her to accompany him to Mr. Lyndon’s. Katie is worried that her father is going to damage Mr. Lyndon’s car again, but he tells her he is going to apologize. After a maid shows them in, Mr. Lyndon enters with two dogs. Katie’s father explains that it was he who smashed the car and he has come to apologize. He explains that his daughter had died and he was not himself at that moment.
Mr. Lyndon fires him from his job, and after Katie’s father offers to pay for the damage, Mr. Lyndon tells him that of course, he will be hearing from his attorney. After they leave, Katie’s father says he still has his second job. He does not regret apologizing.
Eventually Katie’s father gets a job at another hatchery a little farther away. That summer Silly’s mother holds a pro-union meeting at her house. Katie goes to help out, and her parents attend the meeting. The union wants the workers to have three days off with pay for grief leave. The proposal passes in a vote, and Katie’s mother votes in favor. She is moved by the plight of a little girl, the daughter of one of the workers, who has cancer.
After Christmas, Katie’s father says he will take them to California for a vacation. Katie suggested it because she knows that Lynn loved the sea and wanted to live in California when she got older. After a visit to the cemetery, Katie’s father gives Katie Lynn’s diary. Katie discovers that Lynn mentioned Katie every day in her diary entries.
They drive to California, arriving on December 31. As they walk up to the Pacific Ocean, Katie almost cries because she knows how much Lynn longed to see the ocean. But she is happy also because she hears Lynn’s voice in the waves, saying “Kira-kira!” This is a Japanese word meaning “glittering,” and it is the first word Katie ever learned, taught to her by Lynn.
All the main characters show progress in this final chapter. Katie, who is only twelve, is being forced to grow up quickly. She learns to accept Lynn’s death, and she also shows an ability to take more responsibility in the family. When her mother is too dispirited to do much cooking, Katie takes over. She shows initiative in learning how to make a variety of meals. She also takes more responsibility to keep the kitchen clean, without being told to do so. Even more important, her grades improve at school. She even succeeds in getting an A for the first time.
Katie’s father shows integrity in facing up to his act of vandalism and accepting the consequences. He manages to keep his dignity and integrity even in the presence of the powerful Mr. Lyndon. Katie’s mother drops her opposition to the formation of a union because she sees how useful it can be in protecting the lives of the workers.