Question: What role does clothing play in the characterization of the people and setting in Child’s Play?
The look and color of character’s clothing reflects the story being set in the pleasure quarters, as well as the age of the characters. The beginning of the story elaborates on the different clothing seen in this place the story is set, the pleasure quarters. The narrator speaks to how the garments worn by young teenage girls is different in this place, due to the favor of “gaudy patterns” and “flashy clothes,” which is not generally practiced (255). The description of the clothing not only develops the notions of the story taking place in the pleasure quarters, but also draws to attention how in this setting age is warped.
In direct characterization of one of the youths in the story, Nobu’s future clothing reflects his age and foreshadows the end to his childhood. Towards the end of the story there is talk that Nobu is going to leave his home to become a monk. Sangoro speaks to this intended transformation of Nobu to Shota, “Once he puts those robes on, they’ll cover up his fighting arm” (286). The use of clothing here to explain that Nobu’s life is going to change radically signifies the transition of childhood to adulthood. The final line of the story that refers to Nobu’s future clothing not having the same color ever again reflects that Nobu is leaving behind colorful youthful clothing (as well as the colorful youthful activities such as fighting) for the adult muted tones of a monk robe. The contrast of these adult robes to youth robes can be understood by the description of Chokichi’s robes a few pages prior. Chokichi is seen with a black robe and a bright orange sash. This outfit of Chokichi’s is described as “a young gallant” (281). The colorful look of Chokichi’s robes signals his age as a youth, but the image of muted monk robes reflects the opposite. As a result, clothing plays an interesting role in developing age and actions of characters in Child’s Play and helps develop the transition from child to adult in characters such as Nobu.