Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rhetorical Responce to "Pidgin Politics" by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

This story tells of a young boy whose comfortable dialect in his Hawaiian life is Pidgin, the result of immigration from Europe and Asia to Hawaii. Each of the diverse cultures brought their own influence to the language, teaching their own children their native languages while these same children went to school to learn English, and eventually Pidgin came to be.

The story begins with a conversation between the young boy and his father, who answers the phone in English and then immediately after hanging up, falls back into Pidgin for several paragraphs of dialogue. The father had been asked to join the teacher at school for a conference regarding the young boy's sister. The teacher, Miss Owens, is one of the "haoles", as the father calls the people who "Think they so holier-than-thou with their fast-talking mouth and everybody mo' brown than them is dirt under their feet." The main purpose of the dialogue is to establish the style and perspective of the culture seen in the household of the young boy, especially in contrast to that of the religious school teacher--although this contrast is primarily established in the beginning through the opinions of the father and the young boy, who narrates this story. As the conversation goes on, the young boy knows his father is just angry because he is recalling past experiences, so he begins to try at convincing his father that "not all haoles [are] haoles". Yet the hatred of the teacher (both ways, it seems) is reaffirmed in the young boys mind in exaggerated comments, like one about what she would do to him in retaliation for swearing earlier: "For that, I know I would've been sent headfirst into the kitchen counter. Why didn't she tell? She's saving it to make the effect greater when she meets with Poppy in person."

Eventually, his "Poppy"(father) tells him that he is going to have to go to the conference in his place. Ivah, the young boy, proceeds the next day to the school and meets with the teacher. Whether it was seen this way from Ivah's perspective or simply was this way, the teacher treats him very poorly, questioning him alongside pointed comments. She mentions his sisters muteness not allowing her to ask to go to the bathroom, leading to accidents. "My [class]room smells like a janitor's nightmare", she comments to the young boy. The choice of words on part of the teacher and her comments, alongside Ivah's insightful narration as to what was behind the teacher's dialogue, paints the teacher as quite an inconsiderate person. She seems to fit well the description that Ivah's father gave on the "haoles".

By the end of the story, the rhetoric in general pictures Ivah and his family as innocent victims of a bias on part of the school employees.

1 comment:

  1. Wow yours is really well done, I did not organize mine like that... oops, I hope I did it right!