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Fifty Words for Rain: Meaning Behind The Ending + Summary

fifty words for rain ending explained

Fifty Words for Rain, a novel by Asha Lemmie in 2020, is a story set in post-World War II Japan.

It follows Noriko Kamiza, known as Nori, who seeks to understand why her mother left her with a harsh grandmother. The novel explores themes of race, identity, family, and the clash between traditional and modern Japanese culture.

Summary | Ending Explained

Fifty Words for Rain Summary

Nori, with a darker complexion due to her African American soldier father, faces abuse from her grandmother Yuko every month. Nori’s secret half-brother, Akira, arrives, a talented violinist who eventually warms up to Nori. Akira challenges old traditions, stopping Nori’s abuse, letting her explore, and teaching her the violin.

Yuko tricks Akira, selling Nori to a brothel, where she entertains without intimate acts. After two years, Nori discovers a potential buyer who plans to travel the world. Attempting suicide, Nori survives to find out Akira was the buyer, secretly searching for her. They reunite, and life resumes, hosting visitors Will and Alice Stafford. Tragically, Will sexually assaults Nori in the garden.

Nori receives an invitation from a merchant to perform the violin at a Christmas Eve party, where Akira accompanies her on the piano. Tragically, Akira dies in a car crash after the event. Devastated, Nori leaves, carrying Akira’s violin as she travels the world. Her journey leads her to England, where Will recognizes her at a symphony performance. Reuniting with Alice, Nori becomes part of her friend’s family.

While at the Stafford house, Nori falls in love with Noah, a music teacher for Alice’s children. Their engagement takes an unexpected turn when Nori receives a letter claiming her grandparents’ demise. Returning to the Kamiza estate, she discovers Yuko is still alive and reveals that Akira’s fatal crash was intended for Nori. As the sole heir, Yuko offers Nori the estate but with conditions – she must marry quickly, forsake Noah, and live at the estate.

Initially resistant, Nori changes her mind when she learns she is pregnant. Determined not to abandon her child like her mother did, she agrees to Yuko’s terms, intending to reshape the family’s culture. In the novel’s conclusion, Nori promises her baby a different life than hers.

Fifty Words for Rain Ending Explained

After reading a poem, Nori wonders if she could ever be as free as a bird. Upon gaining her freedom and traveling the world, she realizes that, despite having more than she ever imagined, the absence of Akira leaves her feeling unfulfilled. Her travels, though sophisticated and cosmopolitan, do little to ease her grief, and she remains isolated.

Reconnecting with Alice brings a new perspective into Nori’s life, alleviating some of her self-loathing. However, the sophisticated life Nori leads fails to bring the satisfaction she seeks. Alice, too, feels unfulfilled despite having a good family. Their reunion introduces uncertainty, sparking rumors of a romantic relationship.

At a ball, June’s hurtful words serve as a harsh reminder to Nori that there are people who will never accept her, maintaining prejudiced views. June’s comments highlight the ongoing challenge Nori faces in changing others’ perceptions of her, emphasizing the persistent societal biases and prejudices she confronts.

Eddie’s death stands out as a quiet tragedy in the novel. Being a gay man in a prejudiced society, his life is marked by tragic irony. Ironically, the happiest period of Eddie’s life occurred during his time in a Nazi prisoner-of-war camp, where he

When Nori encounters Will again, their roles have flipped. His view remains unchanged, but Nori now responds to his pleas with indifference. Having experienced profound loss, she has grown resilient. Will suggests fixing her, implying she’s broken, but Nori knows her strength and rejects the notion of being broken, though she fears she might be beyond redemption. Importantly, she resists manipulation.

After her encounter with Noah, Seiko’s diaries hint that Nori’s fate might be predetermined. Despite empathizing with Seiko, Nori grapples with her mother’s harsh words about her birth, acknowledging it as the worst day of her mother’s life.

Interactions with Yuko expose another unfulfilled woman. Despite Yuko’s rise to power through determination, her deathbed reveals vulnerability. Yuko, burdened by guilt for Akira’s death, believes Nori will follow in her footsteps. The cost of female rule, Yuko notes, demands cruelty, ambition, vigilance, and the erosion of integrity.

Yuko’s contradictory statement about having both regrets and none seems impossible initially. She regrets societal constraints that limited her choices, illustrating the internal conflict faced by women in positions of power. Yuko’s regrets highlight the societal constraints that force women into difficult choices, raising questions about the true nature of duty and the toll it takes on one’s integrity.

Ultimately, Nori comes to view Yuko as a pitiable figure, and her anger diminishes. Yuko’s unwavering defiance and belief that Nori will follow her path become catalysts for Nori’s decision to change her destiny. The turning point occurs when Nori, contemplating her child, labels him a “bastard,” mirroring the derogatory terms used against her. This realization propels Nori to chart a restrictive course for her son, fearing he might internalize the stigma associated with such labels.

Nori’s ability to make this choice is intertwined with her vision of Akira. The author deliberately avoids defining whether Nori’s encounter with Akira in the garden is a dream, hallucination, or a genuine spiritual visitation.

Regardless, the impact on Nori is profound. Akira’s death remains the source of her deepest grief. When Akira expresses that he would have chosen a short life over a long one without her, Nori gains the freedom to live life on her terms, knowing it honors his sacrifice. Akira’s perspective reframes Nori’s guilt and shame, allowing her to move forward without dishonoring his memory.

Happy reading! ❤️

Jerilyn Church

Tuesday 7th of May 2024

Well done! But I am still trying to figure out the name, "Fifty Words for Rain". Where did the number come from? I can see "Words For Rain" but I am missing how the author determined "50". Any suggestions?


Wednesday 5th of June 2024

Hmm. Good question. Maybe there isn't a reason for it.