In a Grove

In a Grove Literary Elements


Modernist short story; mystery

Setting and Context

The majority of the action takes place in a bamboo grove near Kyoto in pre-modern times

Narrator and Point of View

Lacking a central narrative authority, the story is composed of multiple first-person testimonies and confessions

Tone and Mood

While the tone is consistently mysterious and matter-of-fact, the mood shifts from procedural to become increasingly dreamlike, mysterious, and unreliable

Protagonist and Antagonist

Due to the contradictions of multiple perspectives, the roles of protagonist and antagonist switch among Takehiro, Masago, and Tajōmaru depending on who is speaking.

Major Conflict

The story's central conflict concerns the difficulty of determining who murdered Takehiro when varying accounts both corroborate and contradict other claims


Since the story offers multiple perspectives on the events that lead to Takehiro's death, there are several climaxes. In Tajōmaru's confession, the climax occurs when he unties Takehiko and the men engage in a sword fight. In Masago's confession, the climax occurs when she decides to kill Takehiro and herself. In Takehiro's spirit's testimony, the climax takes place when Masago orders Tajōmaru to kill Takehiro.


The woodcutter mentions in his testimony trampled leaves, suggesting that Takehiro must have put up a fight. This foreshadows Masago's rape and Takehiro and Tajōmaru's sword fight.






Each testimony or confession contains elements that parallel elements of other accounts; however, these parallels merely provide a foundation from which details may differ wildly, and thus the reader is denied the ability to knit together a cohesive narrative.

Metonymy and Synecdoche