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Formalism is an approach which contains intrinsic properties and treats each work as a distinct or unique work of art. The historical context, the author, or any other external contexts are not necessary or important in interpreting the meaning (Barrot &Sipacio, 2016). It tackles more on the formal features of the text or story like its structure, style, imagery, tone and genre. The animated film which is entitled the “Grave of the Fireflies” tells the story of two children from the port city of Kobe, made homeless by the bombs. It is a tragic story of the struggle for survival of a teenage boy and his younger sister during World War II (Jun, 2011).
The whole story is told throught the perspective of SeitaIn the story, metaphors are used to show the central theme and to understand what the author is trying to impart or convey throughout the story. The fireflies which appears every time when Seita and Setsuko feels hopeless, symbolizes the light or lamp of hope that guides them in their times of difficulty. In the scene where Setsuko asked her brother about why do fireflies have to die so soon, it illustrates the hopelessness and misery. It also illustrates the lost of their mother and how short life really is. There is also a simile that is used in the story. The candy tin is like an emotional support for Setsuko whenever she was feeling gloomy and every time she missed her mom, Seita will immediately give her a drop of candy to cool her down. It shows how Seita change in character of a brother into a mother figure. It depicts that every time she tasted the candy she felt there is still a hope of everything even though they are facing a lot of challenges. The writer uses a flashback which depicts as a reminder or to put in mind of how painful it is to lost a love one.
The flashback of how sweet and caring their mother was, made Seita mournful. When Setsuko knew what really happened to her mom that was the time Seita lost control of his emotions and he broke down in tears. It depicts that Seita is emotionally fragile but still brave enough to face a lot of challenges and obstacles for them to survive together with his sister. It was the shattering effects of war and Seita’s pride and ego are the reason of Setsuko’s death. Their aunt reminded Seita to look for a job but he chose not to and left his aunt’s home. They ran out of food and it resorted in to stealing of fruits and eating frogs. Setsuko suffered from diarrhea and malnutrition but Setsuko tried his best to feed his sister but it was too late already. Seita shows kindness and gratitude to his brother for the last time by saying “Seita, thank you”. The last part is so tragic and heart-wrenching because of what happened to the main characters.
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