Table of contents

Style of writing

The language used by Ken Liu in the short story “The Paper Menagerie” mainly highlights the clash between the Chinese language and the English language in Jack’s life. 

The dialogue mirrors the physical and the psychological distancing between mother and son. Jack speaks English, which he sees as an important element of the American culture. His mother, on the other hand, only speaks Chinese and struggles to learn English:

Mom looked at Dad, not understanding. She looked back at me. ‘Sha jiao chink?

‘English,’ I said. ‘Speak English.’

She tried. ‘What happen?’

I pushed the chopsticks and the bowl before me away: stir-fried green peppers with five-spice beef. ‘We should eat American food.’

This example shows Jack’s frustration to hear his mother speak Chinese, which he later on, expresses when he demands his family adopt American habits. 

The di...

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