Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kristel's Monkey Bridge Journal

The Lotus and Rose

Depiction’s description:

The picture is of a wilting rose over Thanh’s lotus-adorned head, and a wilting lotus over Mai’s rose-bearing head. It symbolizes the view of the American culture (as the rose is the U.S.’s national flower) to Thanh who holds the ideals of Vietnam (symbolized by the lotus as it is Vietnam’s national flower). Thanh’s or Vietnam’s belief system at the time and traditions as well are seen as obsolete and weak in Mai’s perspective, which is why the lotus wilts above her head. The flowers, vibrant and proudly worn, represent the belief systems being upheld by Mai and Thanh while the wilted flowers depict their perspectives of the other culture. Thanh’s perspective of American ways, then, is that they are inapplicable and virtually useless to her thought process and cultural foundation of beliefs. Also, the positioning if their heads signify their clash in beliefs and ideas based on the cultures they inhabit the most.


  1. Do you think Mai's view of Vietnamese culture and Thanh's view of American culture are totally negative? It does seem this way on the surface, but various passages make me question whether the situation is really so simple. For example, Mai seems to draw strength from the story of the Tran sisters during her college interview. It also seems like Thanh must be ok with American culture on some level if she is willing to send Mai to America and then later kill herself, leaving Mai to completely assimilate into American culture.

  2. I think this is a strong representation of each woman's views. Than is certainly strongly linked to her traditions and culture while Mai does feel isolated from those ideals. However, I'm not sure that Mai is that strongly linked to an American ideal either. It seems more to me that Mai is in a state of limbo, of not belonging either place than feeling as if she is a true "American."Other than that, the illustration is strong in its symbolic representations and helps the reader visualize each woman's issues!

  3. I agree with Matt - it seems like while both Mai and Thanh are linked to one culture more strongly than the other, they don't completely disregard the other. While Mai seems to do everything she can to become "American," she is very interested in reading her mother's journals and learning about her Vietnamese roots that way. She justified it to herself by saying that she was just a child trying to understand her mother, but she seems drawn to the past, which equates Vietnam for them. While Thanh is not impressed with American beliefs of science and genetics as a replacement of karma, she becomes very excited at the American possibility of becoming an entrepeneur.

  4. I think that this a strong representation of the clash that occurs between Mai and Thanh, but I don't necessarily agree with Matthew's comment, especially the part where you say that Thanh has to agree with Mai's assimilation to some degree. The only reason I don't agree that Thanh has accepted Mai's integration is because I see Thanh's suicide as a way of giving up, of conceding to Mai's wishes to assimilate. I see that as a reluctant resignation, instead of a willing one.