Journey - Critics [Muzark]-Edited | Gambling | Altar
Journey by Shirley Geok Lim Lin is a must read. This literary work delivers many cultural values. Other than that, it ex...
Task 2: Written Assignment
Journey by Shirley Geok Lim Lin is a must read. This literary work delivers many cultural values. Other than that, it exposes various literary criticism theories that can be argued.
The first theory is social criticism. One event in this short story shows the social life practised by her father. As we all know, Chinese people are popular with the game called mahjong. It is considered as gambling when involved with money and betting. Gambling will bring more harm than good. It will cause stealing, cheating, family problem and chaos. Everyone wants to be rich in just a matter of time but they do not think of the consequences. From this story, it is shown that the girl’s father is a gam bler. Her mother and siblings had slept except for his father who still gambling with his friends. As stated in the short story, “She could hear her father in the next room with his friends, squatting on their chairs and throwing dice, now and again spitting out an expletive.” Communication among family members is also considered as a key point in
social criticism. In Journey, Shirley highlights the process of conversation between the girl and her siblings. The girl is carrying her younger brother and puts him to sleep by patting him. She was doing that while singing a lullaby. Although the sister rarely goes back home, she shows the love towards her siblings by taking care of them. Besides, the girl realises her social responsibility as the oldest one to help her mother. When the mother is resting, she will keep an eye on the children. As stated in the short story, “The baby boy was suffering from wind; eldest sister carried him in her arms, patting his back and crooning to him, “Aii, aii, go to sleep, little boy, aii aii, little man, strong sleep...”
The next theory of literary criticism is culture. Journey by Shirley Geok Lim Lin is indirectly telling the readers about Chinese culture. The reader can identify some of the values in the Chinese society. For instance, the traditional clothe called samfoo. It is a
style of casual dress worn by Chinese women, consisting of a waisted blouse and trousers. In this short story, the girl keeps looking on an old woman who wears the very old samfoo which is at the same age of her. Although the old woman is at the end of the age, she still wears the traditional cloth as she is proud of the culture. It is stated in the short story, “The one woman appeared as well -worn as her samfoo, exhausted and faded by having had too many children, too much labour done, too many years lived.”
This short story also shows how the Chinese community protects their house. They used dogs to keep an eye of their house when they are not around. Other races also used dogs to look over their resident but in minimum population. As stated in the short story, “Dogs within their fenced yards ran up and down, barking abuse.” Other than that, the story also illustrates the culture of Chinese people in honoring their God. They put an altar in front of their house facing the gate. It is like a temple but in mini size, usually red in colour and put at a high place. This shows that the Chinese community really give importance in religious beliefs. They will pray in front of the altar to ask God to give blessing in their daily life. As stated in the short story, “An altar faced the open door, unlighted candles placed before the household god, an inscrutable figure who sat and watched the domestic goings-on, always to be placated, never to be pleased, awful Lord of destiny of furniture, food and family. The altar is usually decorated with some
gold dragon, red paper and bright light with shining scales.
The third literary criticism theory that can be discovered from this short story is gender. This involves man and woman who play social roles as masculine or feminine. Shirley Geok Lim Lin explain in Journey about the role of women as a good and caring mother. Even though the health condition was critical, she still prepares some food and for her daughter who was on her way back home. Before this, only the mother who did all the housekeeping and taking care of the children. Although she was seriously ill, all the responsibilites as a wife and mother were entirely fulfilled. As stated in the short story, “her mother had kept food for her. The rice was cold, but she had warmed the salty soup and fish for her so that she fell asleep contented .” In contrast, the father did
not play his role as the leader of the family. He ignored his sick wife and neglected his
children. He was busy with his gambling hobby. After he was done with his leisure pursuit, he went to his room to have a nap. As stated in the short story, “Her father in the next room snorted in his sleep” . As a reader, I can conclude that the father did not
appreciate his wife and family. Appropriate actions that can be done by the father are to send his wife to the hospital and take care of her. Plus, the father also should take a responsibility to keep an eye over his children.
In a nutshell, Journey by Shierley Geok Lim Lin has portrayed the real-life situation experienced by some. Although it is just a story, but we can think of many moral values inside it. We learn on how to appreciate the people around us and practise our own culture so that it will last forever.