The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind
The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind
“The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind” was written during the Cold War, a period of intense rivalry between the United States and the former Soviet Union that shaped the politics in the second half of the twentieth century. During this time, each action by one country-the creation of a weapon, the launching of a satellite-was countered by a reaction from the other country. As you read, think about the parallels between the story events and the history of the Cold War.
The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind
“In the shape of a pig?’ cried the Mandarin. “In the shape of a pig,” said the messenger, and departed. “Oh, what an evil day in an evil year,” cried the Mandarin. “The town of Kwan-Si, beyond the hill, was very small in my childhood. Now it has grown so large that at last they are building a wall.” “But why should a wall two miles away make my good father sad and angry all within the hour?” asked his daughter quietly. “They build their wall,” said the Mandarin, “in the shape of a pig! Do you see? Our own city wall is built in the shape of an orange. Thai pig will devour us, greedily!” They both sat thinking. Life was full of symbols and omens. Demons lurked everywhere. Death swam in the wetness of an eye, the turn of a gull’s wing meant rain, a fan held so, the tilt of a roof, and, yes, even a city wall was of immense importance.
Travelers and tourists, caravans, musicians, artists, coming upon these two towns, equally judging the portents, would say, “The city shaped like an orange! No! I will enter the city shaped like a pig and prosper, eating all, growing fat with good luck and prosperity!” The Mandarin wept. “All is lost! These symbols and signs terrify. Our city will come on evil days.” “Then,” said the daughter, “call in your stone-masons and temple builders. I will whisper from behind the silken screen and you will know the words.” The old man clapped his hands despairingly. “Ho, stone-masons! Ho, builders of towns and palaces!” The men who knew marble and granite and onyx and quartz came quickly. The Mandarin faced them most uneasily, himself waiting for a whisper from the silken screen behind his throne.
At last the whisper came. “I have called you here,” said the whisper. “I have called you here,” said the Mandarin aloud, because our city is shaped like an orange, and the vile city of Kwan-Si has this day shaped theirs like a ravenous pig -” Here the stone-masons groaned and wept. Death rattled his cane in the outer courtyard. Poverty made a sound like a wet cough in the shadows of the room. “And so,” said the whisper, said the Mandarin, “you raisers of walls must go bearing trowels and rocks and change the shape of our city!” The architects and masons gasped. The Mandarin himself gasped at what he had said. The whisper whispered. The Mandarin went on: “And you will change our walls into a club which may beat the pig and drive it off!” The stone-masons rose up, shouting. Even the Mandarin, delighted at the words from his mouth, applauded, stood down from his throne. “Quick!” he cried. “To work!” When his men had gone, smiling and bustling, the Mandarin turned with great love to the silken screen. “Daughter,” he whispered, “I will embrace you.” There was no reply. He stepped around the screen, and she was gone. Such modesty, he thought. She has slipped away and left me with a triumph, as if it were mine.
The news spread through the city; the Mandarin was acclaimed. Everyone carried stone to the walls. Fireworks were set off and the demons of death and poverty did not linger, as all worked together. At the end of the month the wall had been changed. It was now a mighty 2 bludgeon with which to drive pigs, boars, even lions, far away. The Mandarin slept like a happy fox every night. “I would like to see the Mandarin of Kwan-Si when the news is learned. Such pandemonium and hysteria; he will likely throw himself from a mountain! A little more of that wine, oh Daughter-who-thinks-like-a-son.” But the pleasure was like a winter flower; it died swiftly.
That very afternoon the messenger rushed into the courtroom. “Oh, Mandarin, disease, early sorrow, avalanches, grasshopper plagues, and poisoned well water!” The Mandarin trembled. “The town of Kwan-Si,” said the messenger, “which was built like a pig and which animal we drove away by changing our walls to a mighty stick, has now turned triumph to winter ashes. They have built their city’s walls like a great bonfire to burn our stick!” The Mandarin’s heart sickened within him, like an autumn fruit upon an ancient tree. “Oh, gods! Travelers will spurn us. Tradesmen, reading the symbols, will turn from the stick, so easily destroyed, to the fire, which conquers all!” “No,” said a whisper like a snowflake from behind the silken screen. “No,” said the startled Mandarin. “Tell my stone-masons,” said the whisper that was a falling drop of rain, “to build our walls in the shape of a shining lake.” The Mandarin said this aloud, his heart warmed. “And with this lake of water,” said the whisper and the old man, “we will quench the fire and put it out forever!” The city turned out in joy to learn that once again they had been saved by the magnificent Emperor of ideas. They ran to the walls and built them nearer to this new vision, singing, not as loudly as before, of course, for they were tired, and not as quickly, for since it had taken a month to build the wall the first time, they had had to neglect business and crops and therefore were somewhat weaker and poorer.
There then followed a succession of horrible and wonderful days, one in another like a nest of frightening boxes. “Oh, Emperor,” cried the messenger, “Kwan-Si has rebuilt their walls to resemble a mouth with which to drink all our lake!” “Then,” said the Emperor, standing very close to his silken screen, “build our walls like a needle to sew up that mouth!” “Emperor!” screamed the messenger. “They make their walls like a sword to break your needle!” The Emperor held, trembling, to the silken screen. “Then shift the stones to form a scabbard to sheathe that sword!” “Mercy,” wept the messenger the following morn, “they have worked all night and shaped their walls like lightning which will explode and destroy that sheath!” Sickness spread in the city like a pack of evil dogs. Shops closed. The population, working now steadily for endless months upon the changing of the walls, resembled Death himself, clattering his white bones like musical instruments in the wind. Funerals began to appear in the streets, though it was the middle of summer, a time when all should be tending and harvesting.
The Mandarin fell so ill that he had his bed drawn up by the silken screen and there he lay, miserably giving his architectural orders. The voice behind the screen was weak now, too, and faint, like the wind in the eaves. “Kwan-Si is an eagle. Then our walls must be a net for that eagle. They are a sun to burn our net. Then we build a moon to eclipse their sun!” Like a rusted machine, the city ground to a halt. At last the whisper behind the screen cried out: “In the name of the gods, send for Kwan-Si!” 3 Upon the last day of summer the Mandarin Kwan-Si, very ill and withered away, was carried into our Mandarin’s courtroom by four starving footmen. The two mandarins were propped up, facing each other. Their breaths fluttered like winter winds in their mouths. A voice said: “Let us put an end to this.” The old men nodded. “This cannot go on,” said the faint voice. “Our people do nothing but rebuild our cities to a different shape every day, every hour. They have no time to hunt, to fish, to love, to be good to their ancestors and their ancestors’ children.” “This I admit,” said the Mandarins of the towns of the Cage, the Moon, the Spear, the Fire, the Sword and this, that, and other things. “Carry us into the sunlight,” said the voice.
The old men were borne out under the sun and up a little hill. In the late summer breeze a few very thin children were flying dragon kites in all the colors of the sun, and frogs and grass, the color of the sea and the color of coins and wheat. The first Mandarin’s daughter stood by his bed. “See,” she said. “Those are nothing but kites,” said the two old men. “But what is a kite on the ground?” she said. “It is nothing. What does it need to sustain it and make it beautiful and truly spiritual?” “The wind, of course!” said the others. “And what do the sky and the wind need to make them beautiful?” “A kite, of course – many kites, to break the monotony, the sameness of the sky. Colored kites, flying!” “So,” said the Mandarin’s daughter. “You, Kwan-Si, will make a last rebuilding of your town to resemble nothing more nor less than the wind. And we shall build like a golden kite. The wind will beautify the kite and carry it to wondrous heights. And the kite will break the sameness of the wind’s existence and give it purpose and meaning. One without the other is nothing. Together, all will be beauty and co-operation and a long and enduring life.” Whereupon the two Mandarins were so overjoyed that they took their first nourishment in days, momentarily were given strength, embraced, and lavished praise upon each other, called the Mandarin’s daughter a boy, a man, a stone pillar, a warrior, and a true and unforgettable son.
Almost immediately they parted and hurried to their towns, calling out and singing, weakly but happily. And so, in time, the towns became the Town of the Golden Kite and the Town of the Silver Wind. And harvestings were harvested and business tended again, and the flesh returned, and disease ran off like a frightened jackal. And on every night of the year the inhabitants in the Town of the Kite could hear the good clear wind sustaining them. And those in the Town of the Wind could hear the kite singing, whispering, rising, and beautifying them. “So be it,” said the Mandarin in front of his silken screen.
1. Respond: Do you think Mandarin’s daughter gave her father good advice? Explain.
2. Interpret: How do the townspeople react to the repeated directions to rebuild?
3. Analyse cause and effect: How does the competition between the towns affect the
people’s health and well-being? Explain.
4. Evaluate: Should the people have continued to follw the Mandarin as a leader?
5. Evaluate: Why are walls built as a kite & the wind more effective for a peaceful &
harmonius relationshiop between the two towns?
6. Draw conclusions: What lesson does this story teach for today’s world?
Is conflict necessary?
[a] Why do the two Mandarins feel that their cities must compete in wall-building?
[b] To end their conflict, what must the Mandarins realize is more important than this
competition? Explain your answer.
Comparing Symbolism and Allegory
1. Use a chart like the one shown to analyse how the characters, events, and setting in “The Golden Kite, the Silver Winds” could be symbols for leaders and world events during the Cold War.
|Mandarin||Leader of his town;
worried about losing business & reputation
|Leader of a nation who wants to stay on top|
2. [a] In “The Scarlet Ibis,” what does the ibis symbolize?
[b] Which details support your conclusion? Explain
3.Based on your analysis of the symbolism in the stories, which of these selections is an
4.Based on these stories, why do you think writers might use symbolism in their work?
Writing to compare Symbolism and Allegory
Write an essay in which you compare the use of symbolism in “The Scarlet Ibis” and “The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind.” Use these questions to help you get started:
What message or lesson does the authoe of each story express?
How do both authors use use symbols to develop message?
If the symbols were omitted, would the message change? Explain.
Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Ray Bradbury grew up in Arizona & California. he has been writing for more than sixty years & has published more than 500 stories. his work has earned him many honours, including the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement & the Grand Master Award for the Science Fiction Writers of America.
Writing to Entertain
Bradbury is best knowsn for his workd=s of fantasy 7 science fiction. “I write for fun<” Bradbury has said. ‘i don’t see myself as a philospher. That’s awfully boring….My goal is to entertain myself & others.”
Although it is not specific, the setting is inferred upon somewhere in China before technology. The setting in this story pertains to social condition more than a specific location or time. The social condition is very similar to the cold war; two groups of people constantly trying to do better than the other.
The characters are…
The Mandarin of Kwan-Si
The first Mandarins daughter
He enjoyed a relatively idyllic childhood. He became a writer when he was twelve or thirteen. As a child he loved magicians. He loved to read adventure, fantasy, and fiction. He, along with his family, moved to Los Angeles in 1934. As Bradbury aged he experienced lifeuring the Cold War. Of course, this isn’t described as idyllic but, it was a recollection worth writing about.
Ray Bradbury’s inspiration for writing ‘The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind’ was anger with how his life changed during the Cold War. Bradbury wrote most of his story symbolizing the cold war and the anger he had built up from living through such social conditions.
Allegory is when the symbolism/theme takes on a higher meaning. The allegory theme is based off the Cold War. In ‘The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind’ the allegory is expressed in the building of the walls. Each wall built essentially is created to best the other Mandarin’s wall, much like how the Cold War was fought.
The Mandarin ordered his people to build their wall in the shape of a club.
After Kwan-Si saw the wall, his people in turn rebuilt their wall into a bonfire.
The Fourth Wall
The Mandarin had his wall built in the shape of a shining lake.
The Fifth Wall
Mandarin Kwan-Si had his wall built in the shape of a mouth.
The theme in ‘The Golden Kite, the Silver Wind’ is it is better to have friends than enemies.
The Cold War fought between the United States and the Soviet Union. The cause of the war was America’s fear of communist attack, refusal to share nuclear secrets, USSR’s fear of the atomic bomb, and USSR’s fear dislike of capitalism. During the Cold War, America feared attacks from the USSR although they were merely sitting ducks afraid of retaliation if they attacked. Neither sides of the war ever actually decided to take nuclear action resulting in a thirty year stand-off. Even though neither sides had actually attacked, both sides readied themselves and continuously tried to best each other, much like in our story.
Mandarin of Kwan- Si built their wall in the shape of a pig. The other Mandarin had ordered his people to build their wall in the shape of an orange.
Ray Bradbury’s Inspiration
The Sixth Wall
The Mandarin had his wall built like a needle.
The Seventh Wall
Mandarin Kwan-Si had his wall built like a sword.
The Eighth Wall
The Mandarin had his wall built like a sheath.
The Nineth Wall
Mandarin Kwan-Si had his wall built like lightning.
The Other Walls
Kwan-Si had his wall built like and eagle.
The Mandarin built his like a net.
Kwan-Si had his turned into a sun.
The Mandarin had his built as a moon.
The two Mandarin finally came to an agreement to build their walls so they support each other. One would be a Silver Wind and the other would be a Golden Kite. The Silver Wind would carry the Kite in the air and the Kite would make the silver wind look beautiful. They renamed their towns to The Golden Kite, Silver Wind to match the walls built.
The story’s conflict involves two towns competing to build the better wall. It is an external conflict.Introduction
The introduction provides the basis for the rest of the story explaining how superstitious the village/town is. The Mandarin receives information from the messenger leaving him frazzled and unsettles. The Mandarin orders his wall to be changed, so in effect Kwan-Si’s wall can no longer be metaphorically destroy the Mandarin’s town.
After the Mandarin has ordered his people to rebuild their wall, Kwan-Si changes theirs as well. This sets an on going chain reaction. Each town’s wall is a symbol greater than the last to send a message of being above the other.
Now, the walls have been changed multiple times. The Mandarin’s people have started to become weak from starvation and lack of rest. Their lives had been consumed with rebuilding the wall. Noticing this, the voice behind the curtain; the Mandarin’s daughter; advises to send for Kwan-Si.
The Mandarin of Kwan-Si comes to the village where both Mandarins have to except the horrible state of their people because of there relentless battle to be the best. The daughter proposes that both towns rebuild their walls just one last time.
The conflict is resolved because, the walls work together instead of against each other as a golden kite and the silver wind resulting in the Mandarin’s viilages as well working together.
The Mandarins agree rebuild their walls one last time.
The point of view was third person limited. The author used the Mandarin for narration although, the Mandarin did speak directly to the reader