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Most of the characters in Bel Canto use
Watanabe as a means of communication. Watanabe has a great gift
for languages, and helps the hostages understand one another and
the terrorists. Despite his facility with languages, Watanabe has
a hard time expressing his own thoughts and emotions.
Although the terrorist Carmen cannot read or write, she
is passionate about words, and Watanabe falls in love with her partly because
of her intense desire to master the language. Watanabe’s love for
Carmen allows him to become a person in his own right, instead of
the quiet interpreter who serves everyone else.
Watanabe also functions as a symbol of language. Like
language itself, Watanabe both facilitates and impedes direct communication.
People cannot communicate without him, but he is almost a third
wheel in conversation, an impediment to heart-to-heart talks.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Bel Canto!