1. How would you characterize the 5-year-old narrator’s point of view? In what ways is it typical of what you would expect from a young child and in what ways does she surprise you?
  2. Who or what does the butterfly represent and how would you characterize the glass animals?  Is the throwing of the butterfly disk and smashing of the glass animals somehow sacrificial? 
  3. Why does the speaker use simple colors to describe her surroundings? Do the colors themselves have any significance?
    1. Here are a few examples of her simple color descriptions:
      1. “Linda Vista, with its rows of yellow houses, is where we eventually washed up on shore.  Before Linda Vista, we live in a Green Apartment… Before the Red Apartment we weren’t a family like we are a family now.  We were in separate places, waiting for each other” (3).
      2. “The ring of gold and silver keys that rattled beside Mel opened the doors to condominiums, duplexes, and town houses in various states of neglect” (9).
      3. “A block away from my school, Ba and I would stop at a red-and-white sign on the street corner and I’d put my arm around the post… Ba was studying the letters on the sign.  He practiced reading the word.  He would slowly part his lips and close them make the sound: ‘Sup-top!’” (18).
  4. In Choi’s book, Soft Science, she defined the words “fish” and “sea,” respectively, as the antonym of “bright, ancient wound I follow home” and a “cold ancestor; bloodless womb” (Glossary of Terms in Soft Science).  Lê uses fishing and the idea of the ocean many times throughout this chapter.  How would you describe the discussion between Lê and Choi using the Soft Science definitions?  

Here are a few examples of where the words are used:

  • “Often they would still have their coats on and one uncle, sleeping on a top bunk, never managed to kick off both his shoes.  Ba would lift me up and I would wiggle the shoe from side to side until I could pull it off the uncle’s foot.  Then I would fish under the bed for the shoe that had been kicked off the night before.  I would pair the shoes and leave them in the middle of the room, with their toes pointing toward the door” (16).
  • “Once, I forgot that my fingers were still entangled in the doll’s hair.  As I sat up, her body jerked forward with me knocking the plastic fruit off the shelf.  Apples and oranges bounced on the floor. That day, the starholder hurried past me.  ’Shhhh!’ My teacher said, pressing a long finger against her fish lips. ‘Shhh!’” (21).
  • “I looked through the triangle formed by the woman’s tanned knee, calf and thigh and saw the calm sleeping waves of the ocean.  My mother was out there somewhere.  My father had said so” (6).
  • “We thought of those long nights floating on the ocean, rocking back and forth in the middle of nowhere with nothing in sight.  We remembered the ships that kept their distance” (7).


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