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A Gesture Life

Essay by   •  December 23, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,107 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,068 Views

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Chang-rae lee, in A Gesture Life, pictures a Japanese immigrant named Franklin Hata. Hata have been seeking assimilation into the American society. To become part of the society, Hata tries to become the perfect citizen in the society, a "mascot" who everyone knows and respects. To further his assimilation, he tries to complete the picture of a whole and healthy family as many ideal Americans. Through adapting Sunny, Hata wants to assimilate through a parental figure. Through parental figure that is caring, a good parent and good heritage, supremely suggesting that a parent that is successful in all is a parent that is successful in society. But Sunny plays a different character in his life, a character that alters Hata's idea as she is a miscegenation subject that wanders around the margins of Bedley Run. With an adopted daughter as Sunny, Hata has nothing but disappointment.

Maybe you don't know it, but all you care is your reputation in this snotty, shitty town, and how I might hurt it... "I don't need you," she said softly, and without remorse. "I never needed you. I don't know why, but you needed me, but never the other way." (94-96)

On the night Hata seeks for Sunny at Gizzi's house, the pure figure of womanhood Hata longs for vanishes before his eyes. As he watches Sunny "run her hands over herself, pressing across the skimpy shirting and down her naked thighs and up again...she was moving and dancing with every suggestion, and then finally she was touching herself in places no decent woman would wish men to think about, much less to see." (p.114-115).

At the end of the passage, Hata's dreams of Sunny as a recovery force in his own life fades, and he regrets that she is his daughter and not just another woman. Sunny can't be the innocent symbol of benevolence and discipline related as Hata wanted.

Almost a year after Sunny left Hata's home and moved to the city to live with her boyfriend, Lincoln Evans, Sunny contacts Hata because she is pregnant and she needs help. This difficulty is another instance of Hata's desperate wish to gain control of his own life by policing the bodies of women. Sunny is not only pregnant, but "near full-term" and Hata finds himself "taken back by the broad, curving shape of her." Although "anyone else would have thought that she was too long with the child, that it was much too late, that there was nothing left to do"(p.339), Hata not only arranges an illegal abortion for Sunny but also assists the physician, whose nurse would "likely not agree to assist such a procedure"(p.343). What Hata wishes to prevent in this instance is to breed miscegenation and keep his reputation.

For Sunny wants to ensure the success of Hata's assimilation, the racial makeup of her future children is essential to his success. Hata clearly encourages Sunny to go through this abortion because the father of the child is Lincoln Evans. By forcing Sunny to abort the child, Hata tries to preserve both her purity and the weak grasp he has on his own identity as a caring parental figure. Hata's actions, however, are also an attempt to police Sunny's body to ensure the purity of his own heritage and reputation.

Dispite how Sunny may fail Hata in her teenage years, she was always clearly a failure in his eyes since the beginning. Hata does not get the "humble" Korean child he wanted from the adoption agency, but rather the product of a modern pattern that closely mirrors K's condition.

"A skinny, jointly young girl, with thick wavy black hair and dark-hued skin. I was disappointed initially; the agency has promised a child from a hardworking, if squarely humble, Korean family who has gone down on their luck. I had wished to make my own family, and if by necessity of a single parent then at least one that would soon be well reputed and happily known, the Hatas

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