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China Men – The Brother in Vietnam

China Men – The Brother in Vietnam

In her tale, “The Brother in Vietnam,” author Maxine Hong Kingston relates the drastic misinterpretation of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” on the part of the “brother’s” students. It is clear to the reader that their disillusioned thoughts and ideas of the world were instilled in their vulnerable minds by their own parents at young ages, an occurrence that still takes place in our society today.
In his account of the situation, the brother first clearly makes a note that these confused and suspicious students comprise not one of his elementary classes, but rather his only non-remedial class. From this he is evidently implying that one would expect a heightened ability to understand and more accurately analyze the power and beauty of great literature on the part of the students. Thus from the beginning, the reader is alerted to the fact that their confusion is not due to the difficulty of the material, but rather is the product of some underlying factor. In this way the students perceive this Shakespearean tragedy as a horror story, the mere thought of it shadowed in their minds by fear. They see the Montagues and Capulets as families driven mad; Verona as a plague-infested country where killing and marriage take place in dark regions alike. They infer from it that young love is dangerous, and by reading of a suicide made possible by a potion that was initially intended to preserve tender love instead of stealing it, their notions that there is evil in everything seem to be confirmed.
The brother, frustrated and upset, is unable to “shift the emphasis” that the play has left on these youths, and he feels…

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…protective shield around their children. Do they really believe this is to the benefit of our youth? It is understandable to want to protect children from unnecessary evils, but sometimes in constructing walls around their worldly vision they are in all actuality cutting their children off from reality. It is so much healthier and helpful to confront these issues head-on, rather than trying to skirt around them. In fact, in the long-run, as can be seen through the misinterpretation of “Romeo and Juliet” by the students, such avoidance of the matter at hand will often prove more harmful in the development of young minds.
Through the various misconceptions of the children in her short story, “The Brother in Vietnam,” Maxine Hong Kingston allows her reader to see just how necessary truth is to the vulnerable minds of our youth.

Free Essays – Response to Carroll’s An American Requiem American Requiem

A Response to Carroll’s An American Requiem In one passage Carroll describes himself as being two separate people; each one appearing to have its own convictions and beliefs. He says “I was two people, and considered independently, each of my selves seemed to have a coherence and integrity that were belied by the fact that I could not bring them together. For the longest time I could not speak.” If each one of his halves were a real person, those two people would both be amazing with strong and amazing. However, these two are conflicting sides in one person. In another passage, Carroll describes his father as being “more firmly anchored in who he is than he has any right to be. If he says no, even to God, it’s what he means. If he tells you he will kill you, count on it. And if he uses the word “love” — but he almost never will.” Carroll and his father are described quite differently. Carroll torn in two, cannot seem to form a whole person. He cannot reconcile these two halves. His father on the other hand is so sure of himself that he knows exactly how he feels about things and has no need to be dishonest. He is firm in his convictions. I think that we have all at one time or another felt like Carroll…as if we were living a double life. In high school I would go out with my friends and do things that my parents never knew about. At home I was their daughter, their little girl. They had no idea about who I was when out with my peers on the weekends. If my parents found out about things my friends were doing, I’d agree with them that it was stupid or wrong and say “oh yeah, I can’t believe she’d do that!” Of course I had been there with her and had done the same things. I looked good to my friends because I was just like them; I looked good to my parents because I didn’t look like my friends. I was two people. There was no way that the two could co – exist. I couldn’t be the person I was with my friends when with my parents, and I couldn’t be my parents’ little girl when I was out with my friends. Carroll says that for the “longest time [he] could not speak.” He was choking on his two separate lives; who is James Carroll? It’s hard to speak with honesty and conviction when you don’t exist. You’re two people, but you’re not really anyone. In contrast, his father is more of a person than imaginable. He says exactly what he means. He is to be believed. He has guts enough to say no to God because he means it. Perhaps we shouldn’t say no to God, but at least when Carroll’s father does so, he’s being honest. He doesn’t lie to God. Is it better to follow God when it’s not in your heart because you won’t say ‘no’ to Him, or is it better to be honest about it? I think that we all wish in some way that we could be like this father and know exactly what we want and how we feel. That we could all be completely honest with everyone and with ourselves. How is it that a father with such conviction could have a son split in two halves? Is it the age difference…the difference in maturity? Was this father the same way as his son when he was younger? { I don’t know.}

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