Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!


Owl's picture

In silence class this past week, my group seemed to be lured by the passage in Mazine H. Kingston's reading which read: "I remember telling the Hawaiian teacher, 'we Chinese can't sing 'land where our fathers died.' She argued with me about politics, while I meant because of curses. But how can I have that memory when I couldn't talk? My mother says that we, like ghosts, have no memories" (194). We discussed the possible meanings of ghosts and what they symbolize in terms of Kingston's personal silence as a female child of Chinese heritage. Our conversation reminded of a concept we read in Reading is my Window, that Sweeney described as silences in the home. Kingston was constantly being silenced or told to be silent by her mother. What continues to perplex me the most about the passage, however,is the disconnect and the silence that emerged thereof between the teacher and the student's understanding of Kingston's reluctance to sing "My Country, 'Tis of Thee". I think that it is in this interaction that another meaning of ghost is highlighted, for it is in the ghost like space, that is, the silent and dark space between cultures, where silence occurs. What's more, the lack of cultural understanding and the inability of Kingston to speak prevents that understanding from coming to light. How do we reconcile silence in the home and silence in the outside world?



couldntthinkofanoriginalname's picture

Do we need to reconcile in

Do we need to reconcile in the home and the outside world? When is it okay for there to be silence in the home? And the same for in the world?