Thursday, June 3, 2010

David B.'s Journal Entry: Thanh Rides Across a Monkey Bridge on Her Father's Back

We hear a lot about Thanh's childhood throughout the novel. Actually we hear a lot about the childhoods of both Mai's mother and grandmother. Yet we hear next to nothing about Mai's childhood in comparison. I drew the scene where little Thanh is riding on her father's back because it is precisely this kind of childhood memory that Mai does not seem to have. This memory is one of many that grounds Thanh to her old way of life and it's traditions. They are crossing a monkey bridge because this memory is one of the only things that Thanh was able to bring with her to her new world, it is her connection between her past and present. It also brings up some interesting questions such as why Mai doesn't have anything similar? The monkey bridge itself sort of represents Mai's connection with her mother, it appears whin and rickety but it is made of materials taken from the land, and should it break it would be easy to reconstruct. Also bamboo is a lot stronger than it looks, much like Mai's relationship with her mother.

~David B.


  1. I think your picture represents a great idea that I was questioning myself.I think that Cao focused on Thanh and her mother's childhood in order to represent the home that they grew up in. These memories of their childhood give a representation of the vietnamese culture to the reader and allows them to make a connection between the culture and the relationship of the characters.
    Great Picture! Very artistic!

  2. I think the reason that we don't hear much about Mai's childhood is because she simply did not have one. To me it seems like she grew up in tougher times then her mother that did not allow her to have similar joyful experiences. Also, I can't remember this, but are we sure Thanh had such pleasant experiences as a child and they weren't just made up like the journals?

    Nice picture by the way.

  3. Alicia's CommentJune 6, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    I feel that David’s depiction of the maternal childhoods are correct, as we read a great deal about Thanh’s (false) memories and only a small, vague description of Mai’s youth. The hand drawing is very accurate as to the way Thanh recaps her evenings at home while the Monkey Bridge is used to exemplify crossing bridges between Mai to Thanh. While the account states that the bridge’s looks are deceiving, I do not agree that their mother and daughter relationship is as equally balanced as the bridge, since the two share no true intimacy.

  4. Michelle F. said:June 6, 2010 at 8:01 PM

    David, this a very thoughtful presentation of a fatherly relationship with his daughter- which, indeed, is absent in Mai's life. This is why I find it important that you chose to illustrate this. Yes, you are appearing to bridge a gap that is not necessarily focused on in the book. It is significant because a fatherly figure generally has a great influence on any child's life(positive/negative)- which in this case, Mai can only imagine(How things could have been). It does reveal yet another missing piece in the puzzle of her life and the challenge that follows along.. but yet Mai's determination to not let it negatively affect her.

  5. In my reading of the book I too saw a lack of detail in reference to Mai's childhood. But I think that has to do with the fact that Mai is a child of war. All the things about the war that she suppresses take place during her childhood, it is only natural that she does not describe that time for her.