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Re: Rain Music (correcting typo)

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 02, 2004

In Reply to: Re: Rain Music (correcting typo) posted by ESC on December 31, 2003

: : : Hi folks,
: : : Here is a piece of reading material for you to help me with. As New Year is around the corner and the task is a bit too huge, you may well not hurry in working them out.
: : : I'll sincerely appreciate any help you come up with!

: : : Here are the difficult sentences I'm confused with:
: : : 1.She is the red rose of the family and I am the green thorn.
: : : (Why she say so?
: : : How would you describe the relationship between the two sisters?)

: : : 2.There is something about it, a wistful, dandelion, orchidlike kind of beauty that feels like notes in a chord being played separately, finger by finger, harmonizing back and forth.
: : : (What kind of "beauty" it is when it is connected with dandelion and orchid?)

: : : 3.It always felt like cool satin when I yanked it, her head jerking backward, mimicking the motion of my arm.
: : : (Could you explain Linh's actions in plain English? Jerking? Mimicking?)

: : : 4....his breath whistles through the evenness of his teeth as the cover grazes the dark honey of his skin.
: : : (What does the "cover" refer to here?
: : : And could you explain "dark honey"? What about honey-color skin?)

: : : 5...I want to spend quality time with you, my darling sister. Get up, you piece of mutton.
: : : (Quality time?
: : : and what does "you piece of mutton" mean?)

: : : 6."...He can't give me anything, just himself. And he doesn't even know that I'm using him. Damn it!..."
: : : (Why Linh was "using him"?)

: : : 7."He's so perfect for me, just perfect. It's like he stepped out of my story and came to life. We speak the same language and share the same past. Everything. "
: : : (How to explain "It's like he stepped out of my story and came to life."?
: : : Does Linh really love Thanh? )

: : : 7."...And Mom and Dad, they've done so much for us. Now they think they've won the lottery from God for being good all their life."
: : : (What was Mom and Dad's attitude towards Linh's marriage according to this sentence? Who the chose should be Linh's husband?)

: : : 8.What is Rain music? What is significant about the use of rain in the title, as well as at the end of the story?

: : : MAny thanks!

: : : BTW, now another year is coming near, and I'd say to all your kind folks here that, I've really learned a awful lot in English language on this forum since I struck this gold mine! Thank you for your help! I wish I'd continue to have the pleasure of enjoying your generous help here next year!

: : : May your New Year begin with joy!

: : 1. She is the red rose of the family and I am the green thorn. (Why she say so? How would you describe the relationship between the two sisters?)

: : She is saying that her sister is their parents' favorite - their perfect daughter. They expect great things from her sister. Her sister is the rose and she is just a thorn. (ESC)

: : 2.There is something about it, a wistful, dandelion, orchidlike kind of beauty that feels like notes in a chord being played separately, finger by finger, harmonizing back and forth.
: : (What kind of "beauty" it is when it is connected with dandelion and orchid?)

: : I don't know what this sentence means. (ESC)

: : 3.It always felt like cool satin when I yanked it, her head jerking backward, mimicking the motion of my arm. (Could you explain Linh's actions in plain English? Jerking? Mimicking?)

: : When she pulled her sister's hair, the hair felt like cool satin. (ESC)

: : 4....his breath whistles through the evenness of his teeth as the cover grazes the dark honey of his skin. (What does the "cover" refer to here?
: : And could you explain "dark honey"? What about honey-color skin?)

: : Cover means bed cover, quilt, coverlet. Honey-colored skin is tanned a warm, golden shade. (ESC)

: : 5...I want to spend quality time with you, my darling sister. Get up, you piece of mutton.
: : (Quality time? and what does "you piece of mutton" mean?)

: : Quality time - a relatively short period of time (quality not quantity) when she is going to focus her attention on being with her sister and enjoying her company. Piece of mutton - maybe meaning her sister is older, mutton and not a young lamb? She is teasing her sister. (ESC)

: : 6."...He can't give me anything, just himself. And he doesn't even know that I'm using him. Damn it!..." (Why Linh was "using him"?)

: : As near as I can tell, Linh planned to marry another man but she continued to see David. She was enjoying David's company, etc., even though she knows they have no future. (ESC)

: : 7."He's so perfect for me, just perfect. It's like he stepped out of my story and came to life. We speak the same language and share the same past. Everything. " (How to explain "It's like he stepped out of my story and came to life."?
: : Does Linh really love Thanh? )

: : She says Thanh "stepped out of my story" and at first I thought maybe she means he was her Prince, straight out of a fairytale or a young girl's daydream of romance. But after reading this passage and the conflict between her feelings for David and Thanh, I think it means that if someone were to look at her life (her story) that Thanh would be exactly the kind of husband she should have - same race, same culture, etc. Thanh fits the pattern of her life. Does she love Thanh? Maybe. But she has these romantic feelings for the outsider - David. (ESC)

: : 7."...And Mom and Dad, they've done so much for us. Now they think they've won the lottery from God for being good all their life."
: : (What was Mom and Dad's attitude towards Linh's marriage according to this sentence? Who the chose should be Linh's husband?)

: : I would think her parents would expect her to marry Thanh - a man from the same culture, etc., who would be a good father. Thanh is someone dependable and safe. (ESC)

: : 8. What is Rain music? What is significant about the use of rain in the title, as well as at the end of the story?

: : I don't know. I'm not too good on symbolism. David played music that he called rain music. Maybe it relates to the fact that rain on the roof can be soothing if you're safe inside a house. But rain also can mean danger, it's storming, etc. (ESC)

: : http://www.globaled.org/vietnamandcambodia/lessons/v_lesson_03_reading.php

ESC's comments are by and large on the button. But may I add a few comments of my own?
The novice author describes a very common dilemma for young Asian-American women. Their parents see their children as extensions of their own culture, preserved in a new land. The children, especially the females, are endlessly taught to be obedient and respectful of their parents, who clearly wish the daughters to marry young men of the same culture. In this case, Linh has not told her parents about David. This was probably wise, but may have made it harder to buck their wishes when it comes to Thanh, the Prince Charming straight out of the parents' fairy tale.
I believe it is the younger sister, the story-teller or author, who sees herself as the thorn while Linh is the rose. She loves Linh, brushing her hair as one act of love among many. Calling your sister a piece of mutton is doubtless, as ESC says, a form of teasing. Mutton is not the first thing any American would think of, as it is not often eaten in the U.S.
I suspect that the side-by-side images of dandelions and orchids may have its origin in the author's small acquaintance with American flowers and their names. Dandelions are a ubiquitous and mostly despised North American flower; and while most orchids are native to only a few places in the U.S., some varieties are fairly common in Vietnam.
Rain music. David is a pianist, and so characterizes what may have been some moody improvisation. The author sees that as a motif in the story. Sun and joy have been dimmed out for Linh by the rain of necessity, her need to please her parents. She does not need to be coerced, of course. The parents long ago planted the seeds for a rich harvest of guilt. The rain on the windshield forces the rhythm of the windshield wiper, and provides its own music-of a gloomy sort. Or so I read it. (SS)