Study Guide

Heart of a Samurai Chapter 2

By Margi Preus

Chapter 2

The Samurai of Bird Island

  • Setting: June 27, 1841 (12th Year of Tempo, Year of the Ox)
  • The guys have been on the island for a while, and the only thing around is nature: wind, sea, birds.
  • Actually, not birds—not anymore.
  • Water is scarce, too, since they've run out of their drinking water and there hasn't been that much rain.
  • Manjiro thinks back to when they first got on the island; they were eating birds raw day in and day out.
  • One day, Manjiro has this bright idea to cook the bird meat by pounding it into a paste and spreading it out on a rock under the sun.
  • While he and Goemon wait for the paste to cook, he tells Goemon about wanting to become a samurai.
  • Goemon thinks Manjiro's dreaming a ridiculous dream because they come from poor fishermen; everyone knows that fishermen can't go up the social ladder and become samurai.
  • But Manjiro wants to do it because his father taught him all about being a samurai before he died.
  • They end up play fighting with pieces of wood that they pretend are the long knives of samurai warriors.
  • They stop immediately, though, once Denzo, the oldest guy of the group and de facto leader, comes by and sees them playing (they're supposed to be working).
  • But after Denzo sees what Manjiro is making (they call it "stone roast"), he's cool with them.
  • So after that day, the guys eat stone roast a lot… until the birds are all gone, that is.
  • The guys have been here for months now, and all the baby birds have grown up and flown off.
  • Another day, the boys go looking for water.
  • Things are pretty bad, and one of their guys—Jusuke—is sick.
  • Then they see graves on a hill.
  • You'd think that'd be a bad omen, but Manjiro thinks of something the other guys don't: Graves don't dig themselves, and that means someone survived this place. Hey there, hope, nice to see you.
  • Then one day, while Manjiro is hanging out on a ledge, he sees boats.
  • Three cheers for rescue, right?
  • Hold your horses, though, because when Manjiro swims out to the boats so that they won't miss him, he looks up and sees a pair of blue eyes looking at him.
  • Uh-oh… barbarians.