Death is foreshadowed at least three times before Lynn dies. Katie’s first encounter with death is when Uncle Katsuhisa shoots three rabbit on the camping trip. Katie is still very young, and the rabbits remind her of her favorite stuffed animal, Bera-Bera. Another foreshadowing of Lynn’s death is the story of Brenda, the young girl who many years ago died in the swamp that is now called Brenda Swamp. Her ghost is said to haunt the swamp. Finally, Lynn dreams that she was swimming in the ocean. The dream upsets her because it was not really her swimming but her spirit, “the invisible part of me” (p. 54).
The sea and the ocean are mentioned many times in connection with Lynn. She loves the sea and everything about it. It represents for her the wonder of the world. She tells Katie that the color of the ocean “is deep but see-through both at the same time” (p. 3), and one of the best examples of kira-kira (glittering or shining) is when the sun glitters off the ocean. Love of the sea is one thing about Lynn that never varies; she even writes a story about humans living in the sea, and she dreams of swimming in the ocean. She loves to have Katie read encyclopedia articles about the ocean to her, and her greatest desire is eventually to live near the ocean in California. It is the ocean that provides images of healing following Lynn’s death, when the family takes a vacation in California. The sight of the water makes Katie happy, and she even hears Lynn’s voice in the sound of the waves.
When Lynn is dying, she watches intently as a moth flies around the room. She cannot take her eyes off it. In her sickness the moth becomes for her an image of life and freedom as it flies all over the room. Katie later thinks that Lynn was wishing that she were the moth.
After Lynn’s death there is a powerful image of the sun. Katie cannot stand being in the house a moment longer so she rushes outside and sees the sun low on the horizon. She watches it as it sinks further and feels a sense of panic. She climbs a ladder onto the roof of a garage so she can still see the sun, “then it disappeared, the last time ever that the sun would set on a day my sister had lived” (p. 206). The setting sun thus becomes a powerful metaphor for the loss of life. With the death of Lynn, the sun in Katie’s life has been extinguished.