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Number Tree

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By jjjj111
Words 1080
Pages 5
Number Three The world now a day seems to be split into mainly to worlds - The Western - and the eastern world. It appears to be the idea, in the western part, that people in for example China only are put into the world for ‘our’ delight. That all they should ever do is just work in factories or the tertiary sector and never granting them a single thought. It is this prevailing idea, and the biggest population on the earth, that gives the Chinese leaders a lust for power and a unique opportunity of taking advantages of the lower classes, making them work longer hours and paying them less. It is a great scenario moneywise for the Western firms because it is possible for companies to produce/submit their products to absurdly low prices. But who is affected when western people make extraordinary demands? In the short story ‘Number Three’ Anna Metcalfe (A.M.) tries to give one version of what happens when an employee, on the one hand, has a manager, whom the employee is scared of asking for help and thereby showing weakness, and on the other hand has a ‘customer’, whom the employee is trying to satisfy and comply with the demands there may come. In the short story, we are introduced to Miss Coral. She now lives in the city Chongqing in
China. She was born and raised a few hundred miles in the country. In the story, she works as
International Hostess for Number Three Middle School since the rival school had employed a
“Real English Teacher”. She was therefore dismissed as a teacher because she wasn't a “Real
English Teacher”. A characteristic for Miss Coral is that she seems to be terrified of failing to please the teacher who comes to teach at Number Three Middle School, Mr James. In the following quote it is seen how, when she fails to satisfy the demands of her surroundings, she feels embarrassed and doesn’t want to see any of her roommates - “That night, Miss Coral, makes sure she is in bed, feigning sleep, long before her roommates arrive.”
In the following quote, it is seen how the adverb ‘perhaps’ gives us a hint that she isn’t satisfied with her current life situation because the phrase is loaded with a with a tendency, dreaming of a better life: “…Perhaps then things will be different.” Furthermore, we can also, from her action of sending money to her parent, conclude that she must be a caring person and respects her parents.
As a conclusion to why A.M. has chosen a character such as Miss Coral is because of the fact that it is easier for a reader to understand the horrible circumstances the lower classes are being treated when explaining the circumstances from a personal and emotional point of view. In the story, we are introduced to two people Mr. James, who is the new teacher at the school, and then Director, who is the leader of the school and seems to be very harsh against Miss
Coral. These two people are very central for her job because the one is the one who gives her the job, the director, and the other one because it is her job to satisfy and give him “a good impression of Chinese hospitality…”

Furthermore, Mr James symbolizes the modern western man who comes to China and raises demands, feeling superior.
The relationship between Mr James and Miss Coral is a very strange one. As a reader, our impression, at first, is that Mr James is a sweet and well-mannered man expressed in this quote when bowing, smiling, etc. “He is tall. His light brown hair is roughed in greasy tufts, and bruise-purple smudges darken the corners of his eyes. … He smiles … as he, simultaneously, drops into a bow.” In this quote, which describes the first meeting with Mr
James, we obtain a pleasant impression. However this impression is soon to be deprived. The impression is first damaged when they arrive at his own, unshared, apartment. They have two different understandings of living well, when the first words, from him, is when the flat will be cleaned. This gives a very unpleasant impression of Mr James when he takes this huge ‘gift’ for granted. He acts very superior and ruthless. This terrible behavior only gets worse, and the story ends with Miss Coral losing her job because Mr James’ company has sent a complaint to the director. When A.M. chooses to describe the relationship between Miss Coral and Mr
James as an unequal relation, where Mr James is the superior individual, is to show how the western man takes advantages of the Chinese lower class and how unpleasant it is for the
Chinese class. The last sentence of the story Miss Coral’s thoughts in the following quote: “…Miss Coral has time to note that the Tianfu slums have now been flattened completely”. The story takes place in city Chongqing as earlier mentioned, but a very central element in the story, where the reader can follow her development is the Jialing River and the Tianfu slums. “The shanty town shacks of Tianfu, half flattened, are making way for settlement housing.” Then there are a couple of lines of her thought and then this passage come: “… with the front window down and bursts of cool air flow over her shoulder as they cross the Jialing.” These two descriptions are before the meeting with Mr James. In the end after getting fired because of Mr James following descriptions are written: “…through the smog and the half-hearted spring rain…on a bridge crossing the Jialing river…” and the last sentence as earlier mentioned.
These episodes can be seen as before and after moment for Miss Coral where she before had a lust and belief in the city being a better place, she has after meeting Mr James, lost all of her belief symbolized in the Tianfus, which at first only where half flattened and now being crushed completely. The main conclusion of the story is therefor that when the modern western man comes to
China making inconceivable demands, and the employer is afraid of asking the boss for help, the consequences lie with the lowest employee because they can’t comply these requests.
Furthermore the message of the story is: when the western people make unbelievable demands to the Chinese, the only ones affected are the people who need the help most.

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