English Assignment, Free Paper Sample

Published: 2022-08-30
English Assignment, Free Paper Sample
Type of paper:  Course work
Categories:  Literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 866 words
8 min read

Literary studies are a dynamic and engaging field in which the reader can participate. Reading different literary texts allows one to develop skills that are useful in making analyses. This paper, therefore, explores literary studies by focusing on "Simple Recipes", a short story written by Madeleine Thien.

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A Summary of Janice Fiamengo's Excerpt

"Understanding a Father's Pain" by Janice Fiamengo is an article in the book 'Contemporary Canadian Fiction' which demonstrates how families struggle to live happily. The excerpt highlights texts from various stories from Madeleine Thien's collection such as "Simple Recipes". The story is quite a moving narration that reveals a family's crisis (Fiamengo 207). The narrator remembers her affection towards her distressed father amidst his violent acts. Memories of such scenes in her family do not offer the narrator any solace. According to (Fiamengo 208), immigration contributes to the unfortunate position that families find themselves.

Fathers are faced by the hostility of the new land where they cannot perform their duties as per their cultures. We see a variation in roles, for example, in "Simple Recipes" where the mother works while the father stays at home. The father, on the other hand, takes the role of preparing the family meals and seems disturbed. Moreover, his agony accumulates and vents out as anger and violence towards his teenage son (Fiamengo 210). Janice highlights how this traumatizes the narrator, who cannot erase the incidence from her memory (Fiamengo 215). Another aspect that stands out is the cultural and ethnic crisis that the family encounters. It is seen in the children's unfamiliarity with their native language and the teenage boy's insult of his father's ethnicity. The story's conclusion depicts the narrator's memory of a dying fish that her father had once cooked. The fish's agony before its death is like an allegory of her brother's pain after the confrontation with his father.

Passage Analysis of Madeleine Thien's Story

"Silence Recipes" by Madeleine Thien is a girl's reminiscence that generally revolves around her father. The narrator tells of her cordial relationship with her father as she spent most of her time mainly in their kitchen (Thien 4). She admired his cooking skills, particularly the way he prepared rice. However, a strained relationship existed between the narrator's father and her brother. It is depicted in the passage where the father and son engage in a heated confrontation. The incident portrays the boy as unruly and disobedient to the father's instructions. The father, on the other hand, thinks that the boy is ungrateful especially when he refuses to eat (Thien 11). Also, his outburst shows his deeply-rooted hatred towards his father.

The story highlights the cultural changes that occur when a family migrates to a new country. Their native language and some cultural beliefs are lost. Although the parents try to hold on to some traditions such as using chopsticks to eat, the children have learned the new country's culture. For example, the teenage boy prefers using a fork while eating. The narrator yearns to understand her parents' language, but this is not possible. Her father, who she had earlier described as a 'magician' in the kitchen is later seen as a violent man. It twists the narration into a sentimental piece in which the family seems torn apart. The mother appears as a peace-keeper who stands in the gap to console the hurting teenager. She also calms the narrator who is overwhelmed by emotions having witnessed the ordeal. This scene brings out the role of a mother during a tensile situation.

Critical Engagement

The analysis of "Simple Recipes" done by Janice Fiamengo brings out several themes that are related to a family's unhappiness. For instance, the topic of a father's frustration seems to dominate the story, especially in the violent incident involving the father and son. I have also mentioned the incidence and linked it to the strained relationship that existed between the two. Unlike Janice, I did not equate the father's reaction towards his son to his frustrations, but rather as a result of cultural changes. The father seems to cling to some of his native ways while the son detests them and would instead adopt the new country's ways. However, our analyses, agree on the fact that immigration has led to tensions in families as they try to blend their cultures with the new cultures. Roles change, as women find employment opportunities while men do not. The men are forced to take up different functions, for example, when the narrator's father regularly prepares meals.

Also, in both analyses, the theme of language has been highlighted, where only the parents are familiar with their native language. In my review, I have focused on the cordial relationship between the narrator and her father. The connection seems to emanate from her admiration of the father's culinary skills. Janice also mentions this relationship and describes how the narrator observed her father as he prepared food on several occurrences. Finally, I have identified the theme of a mother's role in arbitration which was not mentioned in Janice Fiamengo's excerpt.

Works cited

Beran, Carol L. Contemporary Canadian Fiction. Ipswich, Massachusetts: Salem Press, a division of EBSCO Information Services, Inc., 2014.

Thien, Madeleine. Simple Recipes: Stories. Back Bay Books, 2009.

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