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Character Analysis

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mcreyes2017
Words 1350
Pages 6
Reyes 1
Melissa C. Reyes
Professor Marilyn S. Turner
English M102
13 February 2016
Character Analysis “Saving Sourdi” by Nay-Lee Chai is a story of sisterhood from childhood to adulthood. The two main characters in the story are Nea, the younger sister and Sourdi, the older sister. The story is narrated by Nea and what she discusses is her difficulty growing up. Chai’s character is very relatable as we all have may have had some moments in our life when our parent’s have said something along the lines of what the girls’ mother says to Nea, “You not thinking. That your problem. You always not think!” (82). She also indirectly discusses the contrast between herself and Sourdi and how her aggressive thoughts and actions influence her decisions but also define who Nea is as a character. Nea is very much a static character from beginning to end. She does not develop at all at any point during the story. Nea from the get go is the protagonist in her sister’s life. The story starts off very dark as she describes that she was only eleven years old when she stabbed one of the drunk men in their families restaurant. She describes Sourdi as looking distressed when one of the men grabbed her and kept holding her tighter as her sister begged to be let go. Nea goes to the kitchen and sees a knife and that is what she saw as the solution to their problem. She leaves the kitchen with the knife and begins to wave the knife at the men. They start laughing and Nea

Reyes 2 goes to say “I charged and stabbed the man in the sleeve” (82). The sisters have a tradition of locking themselves in the bathroom where they go to talk about things. After the stabbing, this is very different moment as the older sister explains to Nea that they could end up in foster care for something like that. Nea does realize how serious her sister is and reflects on a old classmate who ended up in foster care and was never to be seen again and cries. However, I would think, an older sibling, someone who typically a younger sibling looks up to, would change their mindset of their original thought “I shoulda killed him! I shoulda killed that sucker!” (83), Nea does realize her sister is right about the possibility of foster care but she “pretended that I was a good girl and that I would always obey her. What I didn’t tell Sourdi was that I was still a wicked girl. I was glad I’d stabbed that man. I was crying only because life was so unfair” (84). Nea always thought that her and her sister would run away together. She thought that their experience working in restaurants would help them get jobs and they would travel the world. The reader really sees how difficult it is for Nea to realize her sister is growing up and what may be important or dumb to Nea is important to Sourdi. For example, the introduction of Duke in the story. While they were in the fields, they heard gunshots, which frightened Sourdi. Both Duke and Nea ran to her rescue and while Nea is trying to push Duke’s arm away, Nea is surprised that her sister put both her arms around Duke’s neck. It is in this moment and the next we see Nea’s difficulty with accepting her sister is growing up. On page 86, Nea says she felt like the one who should have been “running, screaming, for the road and that moment where Duke and her sister were holding hands and she was the one sitting in the middle. She dreaded it. Reyes 3
The reader can continue to see Nea’s aggressiveness as Mr. Chhay makes his entry into the story, more proof that Nea is a static character. Nea felt like her Uncle, who had started bringing Mr. Chhay around were up to no good. Nea wants to warn Sourdi, but it is as though Sourdi understands what is going on. Even though Nea is having a hard time understanding the changes Sourdi is going through and even though Nea is not out just stabbing people, Nea says “It was the beginning of the end. I should have fought harder then. I should have stabbed this man, too” (87). It is that statement, the reader can truly see that, Chai’s character Nea is very aggressive and makes no improvement in the story. Arranged marriage sounds like something that is custom in this culture and Nea is very different, in the sense that she feels as if she needs to try and rescue her sister from this. As the reader, I feel as though Nea is very round character. She is someone who would put up a fight if she were in Sourdi’s position, where Sourdi looked like she understood what was happening when she was introduced to Mr. Chhay. Two years later and Chai’s character is not only aggressive, but very persistent. A phone call comes in one night and it was Sourdi. She asks her older sister, “What’s the matter? What happened? (89). Nea sits around while her mother is on the phone with her sister and when her mother finally gets off the phone she questions her mother, “So?” (89). Not only that matter but Nea then takes it upon herself to try to reach Nea and when she does she is not satisfied with what her sister has to say. Being the protagonist in her older sister’s life, something does not sit right with Nea, her sister must be in trouble, she needs to try and save her like she saved her the night she stabbed the man in the restaurant. Reyes 4 Duke comes back into the picture and without knowing any facts, she tells Duke that Sourdi is in trouble and that she needs him to bring her to Des Moines where her sister now lives. Even though this way of trying to rescue Sourdi isn’t a act of violence, it is another example of how troubling it is for Nea to grow up. Nea finds out though that her assumptions of what may have been happening to her sister was wrong. She does not apologize, she does not point out that she is wrong and she did not even acknowledge her sister’s husband. One of the reasons I believe Nea did not acknowledge her sister’s husband is because her sister “had made her choice, and she hadn’t chosen me” (96). Nea is not at all a troubling character, but a character easy to relate to. We all were that young at some point and we thought our brothers and sisters were our very best friends and we all made some very naíve plans. Or the friends that we made in elementary and middle and even high school, we thought that those would be our friends forever and that we would all follow the same path and go to college and have great careers and move to a big city and it is not until a year after graduation has gone by that you realize that sometimes people take different paths in life. I’m still seeing that now as my little brother is now a father and some of my best friends are parents too. Some of my best friends took very bad paths. It is hard growing up, but you do. I think that if the story were to have continued, we would have seen that with Nea seeing her sister married with children, she would have realized her sister was all grown up now and that it was time for her to grow up to. I would like to think even though Nea says she wished she had the magic power Naga, she “would have swallowed the world in one gulp” (96), she did grow up.

Work Cited
Chai, May-Lee. “Saving Sourdi.” Literature To Go. Second Edition. Meyer, Michael. Boston, Massachusetts: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2014. 81-96. Print.…...

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