几年前上英语辅修专业的英语写作时，外教Brian推荐了这样一篇小说“The Third and Final Continent ”，作者是英国新生代女作家Jhumpa Lahiri，文章非常有味道。我写的textual analysis 可能是我至今写的最长的一篇英文作文，按照规定的结构，没有参考其他资料，老师给了100分满分。回想起来，这个分数，这篇小说，极大的鼓舞了我学习英语，品味英语的热情和兴趣～前几天MaryAnne从遥远的渥太华将这本获得2000年普利策文学奖的“Interpreter of Maladies”送到我的手中(感激ing)，“The Third and Final Continent ”正是这本短篇小说集的最后一篇，在这里我把当年的那篇赏析贴出来当作在豆瓣的第一篇评论，同时也鼓励和提醒自己，现在虽然很忙，但也不能放松英语的学习～
Subtle Elements Reflecting Big Issues by fullstar
To clearly understand and analyze the essay “The Third and Final Continent”, I focus on three subtle elements: Mrs. Croft’s hands, the flag on the moon, and the sari. Mrs. Croft’s hands help to present the character of Mrs. Croft and make it convincing and colorful. The flag on the moon implies quite different opinions to people with different cultures. The sari tells an interesting story about the conflict between the local culture and the foreign culture. These three elements reflecting big issues play important roles in the essay. With them, the author elaborately presents the characters and expresses quite a few deep and illuminating ideas.
The descriptions and narrations related to Mrs. Croft’s hands help a lot to exquisitely present the trait of Mrs. Croft, who I believe, is the most vivid and impressive character in the essay. When Mrs. Croft was 103 years old, her hands had long pallid fingers, with swollen knuckles and tough yellow nails, a disgusting and pitiful sight that shocked me, providing a surprising contrast to their past— smooth and slim, striking the piano keys with vigorous movements. The great change of her hands shows the readers how hard and helpless a life Mrs. Croft had led. Further more, it presents her firm and strong personality because without that, she couldn’t survive the hard and helpless life. I find it amazing that she was so strong and unyielding that she went through her widowhood and lived for over a century, while the widowhood had driven the main character’s mother insane. In addition, as everybody known, the pianist cherishes his hands very much because they can bring him fame, inspiration, and success. Mrs. Croft, however, had to expect nothing but consider her hands and her talent in playing the piano as the unique way to raise her family, especially after her husband died, even though she may have several colorful dreams. Though there are few sentences describing her past life in the essay, I can imagine how she played the piano in the class, moving her fingers smoothly and desperately again and again, and how she reluctantly tormented her tired hands to do the unpleasant chore at home, during the endless forty years. By implying Mrs. Croft’s earnest dedications to her children, the author highly praises the universal great maternal love. Moreover, I notice that, almost every time Mrs. Croft’s hands were portrayed in the essay, they folded together, either in her lap or on her chest. Instead of just saying that it is her habit, I prefer to interpret it in another way. That is, since Mrs. Croft knew that she had successfully finished her job to bring up the children and back up the family, she didn’t have heavy burdens any more so that she could relax her hands with satisfaction. I can’t help thinking that when she folded her hands together, she may recall, full of happiness in heart, what work her hands had done and how she used to play the piano to raise the family, the “splendid” achievements she must have been very proud of. Besides Mrs. Croft’s hands, I can find in the essay other subtle elements reflecting big issues such as the flag on the moon.
The flag on the moon has quite different meanings to people with different cultures. As for the main character, a foreigner seeking his fortune in America, the flag on the moon symbolized his own experience. America was foreign to him just as the moon was foreign to the human at that time, and his survival far from the motherland was as marvelous to himself as the placement of a flag on the lunar soil. In this sense, he was the hero of himself and he should shout to himself “Splendid!” Relating the main character to the flag on the moon, the author appreciates the achievements of those living on the foreign land, and encourages them to conquer more obstacles to improve their lives so as not to “see the flag fall”. To American youth at that time, the flag on the moon signified a new era was coming. They would be very proud of their country and be stimulated to learn the advanced technology. What’s more, they would be determined to try their best to make great contributions to the country that God bless in the future. I figure the big success at that time surely made thousands of American young people turn their interests to the science and technology. To Mrs. Croft, a typical conservative, the flag on the moon was a wonder, a miracle, a definitely impossible thing. Despite her disbelief, she who was strongly and stubbornly against new stuff, made an exception this time. She accepted the fact with delight and was proud of her country as other American did. By this, the author tries to tell us that, the personal preference is trivial comparing to the patriotism. Now that the analysis of the flag is done, let me show you the third subtle element reflecting big issues— the sari.
The sari appeared in America describes three stages of the conflict between the local culture and the foreign culture. The early stage of the conflict— hostile stage is embodied in the mishap the main character happened to see in the morning, that a local dog attacked a foreign woman by snatching her sari. The sari, an Indian characteristic costume is seen as an odd and undesirable thing according to the local culture. Not only the dog’s arrogant and offensive behavior but also the owner’s cold response to the accident suggests that the local people have some sort of bias and hostility towards the foreign culture, the culture they don’t fully understand or don’t have even the slightest idea about for a lack of intention and chance. In my opinion, the appearance of the hostile stage is natural and reasonable because it is always hard and takes long to persuade people to accept a new object, a new thought, let alone a new culture, but instead of letting it go at that, what we should do is to impel the conflict to develop to a better stage, say, the struggle and coexistence stage. The second stage of the conflict —the struggle stage can be found in Mala’s first several weeks in America in the essay. We can see the struggle of the foreign culture in the fact that Mala who was kind and amiable disobeyed her husband to keep her sari covered when eating with him and she put on a silk sari when her husband suggested going out. The sari that Mala kept covered shows her great respect for her own culture and displays an unusual beauty and energy, fighting against the biased look of the local culture. I appreciate the struggle of the foreign culture exercised in a gentle way, because it can lower the level of the conflict, moving different cultures nearer and letting them learn more from each other, and develop to coexistence. The last stage of the conflict— assimilation stage is also implied in the essay. I am sad to find that after living in America for years, Mala didn’t wear the sari any more. Whether the sari was took off painfully or peacefully, she finally got rid of the old habit or even the old belief to adjust to the new life there in America. Though I don’t like it, I have to say that assimilation is mostly and inevitably the result of the conflict between the local culture and the foreign culture. Now we can see that through the sari, a subtle but very important element, the author told us an interesting and lively story about the conflict between the local culture and the foreign culture and how it develops.
Now you can see, in the essay, everything is elaborately arranged by the author. Even the unnoticed subtle elements such as Mrs. Croft’s hands and the sari, imply big ideas. Taking advantage of them, the author puts fresh and deep thoughts in her own way. Paying special attention to these key elements, we can understand a number of underlying meanings and emotions between the lines, through which we will have endless interests of reading.