Grave of the Fireflies (synopsis - Page 10)

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Synopsis - Chapter Ten: Air Raid


That night (or another night), Seita hears the air-raid siren sounding, so he sneaks out of the shelter and heads to town. It's another firebombing. People flee, carrying few items, save what can fit in a side sack or two. Seita runs past them, against the tide, as if suicidally drawn to the danger. He invades more homes, stealing kimonos. As a bomber flies overhead, Seita, fat from wearing the kimonos under his shirt, cheers.

It's starting to get light when he returns, though the fireflies are still out. Later, he leaves Setsuko again to try to trade off the kimonos. When Setsuko wakes, she can't find her brother anywhere.

In town, Seita offers a red kimono to a middle-aged woman, claiming that they were his mother's, but she throws it in his face. Having no luck, he returns to the shelter, but notices Setsuko's doll on the path. He looks around and finds her at the bottom of the hill. She's lying still, as if she's dead. Even a fly crawling on her cheek doesn't generate so much as a reflex. Seita puts his hands on her shoulders, and she breathes out. She rolls her eyelids open and looks up weakly at Seita. She asks for water.


Seita takes Setsuko to a doctor. She pulls up her blouse, and her stomach is covered in rashes and the shape of her ribcage is sickeningly visible through her skin. The doctor examines her as Seita describes her condition: diarrhea, rashes, prickly heat, etc. The doctor says that she's merely suffering from malnutrition due to the diarrhea, then asks for the next patient. Seita won't stand for it, and asks him if there isn't any medicine or a shot that can cure her. The doctor mumbles, almost to himself, that all Setsuko needs is food. The next patient sits down between Seita and the doctor. Seita shouts over her, "Where do I get food?"


Seita carries her down the road. They stop by a man cutting a block of ice in two. When he carries half of it inside a house, Seita takes his sister over to a pile of ice shavings. He puts some in her mouth and asks her what she'd like to eat. She asks for tempura and ice cream and, most importantly, fruit drops. He then decides to take out the rest of his mother's money to buy food. She doesn't want him to leave her alone, though. She cries and cries, and he finally tells her that after this time, he'll never leave her again. His promise makes her happy.

Horrible looking clouds hang overhead as Seita goes to the bank and withdraws the last 3000 yen. The customers behind him are talking about the impending typhoon. "Great," one says, "we get our divine wind after we surrender." Seita confronts them, since he hasn't heard a thing about the surrender. They are surprised that he doesn't know, and when he asks about the fleet, they tell him that every single ship was sent to the bottom of the ocean. Seita grabs one man, demanding him to tell him if his father's ship was sunk as well. The man pushes him aside. Seita runs out of the bank.

Outside, he pulls out a worn picture of his father. He walks down the street, looking at it, and he hears the sound of a bomber overhead. He drops to the ground, but the bomber doesn't drop anything. The clouds look even more ominous.


Back at the shelter, Setsuko is lying on her mat, holding her doll and candy tin. She's sucking on something. Seita returns, having bought watermelon, chicken eggs, and rice with the money. He apologizes for being so late, and offers to cook the rice. He starts to take things out of the knapsack, but he notices that Setsuko has something in her mouth. He picks up the candy tin and dumps out what's inside: the marble stones that Setsuko had in her purse. He pulls it out of her mouth, then he starts to show her the watermelon.

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