I was thinking some more about our discussion in class about what the butterfly represented and I wanted to draw attention to a part that I don’t think we discussed (correct me if I am wrong). The girl goes to a bunch of people to ask about the butterfly but her interaction with her father confused me the most.

After telling him what she heard from the butterfly and how she knows its alive, his response was as follows, “Ba sat up, shook his head heavy back and forth and tapped on the side of one ear, and then the other” (26). When she asks what he is doing he simply states “‘I must get these butterfly words out of my head before they grow bigger'” (26).

I am not even sure what to say I think is happening aside from the fact that he is shaking off his daughters concerns (even if they are trivial), but I don’t think I am supposed to be reading this as dismissive as I am because we know that her father does care deeply about her. I don’t know, does anyone have any thoughts?

Trapped Butterfly

4 thoughts on “Trapped Butterfly

  • November 19, 2019 at 10:34 pm

    I think he’s being a little dismissive, but not in an unkind way. Maybe for him the butterfly symbolizes escape (because he is in a sense “trapped” by his circumstances), or hope…things he doesn’t have time to dwell on just then.

    Or maybe he just doesn’t feel like talking about butterflies with his unreasonable five-year-old at that moment. I’m not sure either!

    P.S. The whole earlobe thing reminded me of the scenes with the ghosts in The Woman Warrior.

  • November 20, 2019 at 6:34 am

    I kept reading the butterfly in glass as a physical representation of trauma, especially in the way that its release disrupted the lives of those that lacked compassion (the glass animals). So with Ba’s reaction (and the general ‘tears help nothing/no one in this country’ reaction from the uncles) I read it as an extended metaphor for repression. I agree with Elisabeth’s comment that it’s not unkind, but it certainly isn’t the more comforting response we’d expect from him.

  • November 21, 2019 at 7:56 am

    I find the everything about the butterfly discussion very interesting. Especially to the fact of the butterfly being a sort of representation of her in the way she feels so trapped. I’m getting off track here from the original topic, which is about her interaction with her father about the butterfly.

    In my opinion, it seems like the dad might have been joking with her; as a father normally does with their child. I don’t believe he had any malevolent intent when he made the comment, he might have just been giving her a hard time.

  • November 21, 2019 at 11:55 am

    I totally agree with you about the earlobe thing Elisabeth! I hadn’t even thought of that but I definitely see similarities there.

    I also really like Bekah’s thoughts on the theme of repression that we have been discussing and I think it is really interesting to unpack that metaphor.

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