Kokoro Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

The Narrator Picking up Sensei's Things (Motif)

In one of the narrator's first encounters with Sensei, he picks up the spectacles that Sensei dropped. Later on, after the two have become friends, he picks up Sensei's hat while the two talk in a tree nursery. Through these acts, the narrator shows his respect for Sensei and his intention to follow him.

The Narrator's Inability to Respond to Sensei and Sensei's Wife (Motif)

As the narrator visits Sensei's house more often, he also becomes familiar with Sensei's wife and, especially since the couple does not take visitors, he becomes a kind of confidante to the couple. Due to the lack of understanding and problematic communication between the husband and wife, Sensei's wife often asks the narrator for his opinion on their relationship. Also, Sensei often asks the narrator what he thinks of him. However, the narrator, inexperienced as he is, is often at a loss for what to say.

The Death of Emperor Meiji and the Suicide of General Nogi (Symbol)

Since the Japanese organize their time periods by their emperors' rules, the Meiji era ends when the Emperor Meiji dies; the suicide of General Nogi to follow his lord in death further emphasizes the passing of the age which, aside from the literal sense, also has a profound spiritual significance both for an intellectual like Sensei and even an uneducated man like the narrator's father.

Letters (Motif)

From the message which calls the narrator's friend back home in the beginning of the story to the various letters the narrator's family sends to him about his father's sickness and then ending with Sensei's long testament, letters play an important role in the story, calling the characters from one place to another and, in the case of the testament, revealing information which otherwise could not be communicated.

Sensei's Wife's Beauty (Symbol)

After becomes a misanthrope as a result of his uncle's betrayal, Sensei in nonetheless able to love Ojosan, his future wife. Even more strikingly, his love for her does not diminish after his pressuring K into suicide. To Sensei his wife is the symbol of the traditional beauty that has been lost due to modernization, and as such he cannot bear to reveal the truth to her, which would make her fall from that state.