An essay on The Chieftest Mourner by Aida Rivera-Ford
The short story focuses on Filipino conventions during the wake of loved ones. It’s also a twist of Filipino stereotypes regarding social conventions such as the ‘kabit’ or the second wife/mistress, as compared to the first wife. The story is narrated in a somewhat unbiased, childlike tone but it’s actually flavored with insight and implicit descriptions that shows the protagonist’s maturity. There is a good balance of insight, as if to give the other characters a benefit of doubt and a seemingly unbiased narration. The narration was cleverly done; the events are divided through the protagonist’s recollection and as-the-event-happens retelling of the wake itself. When the story began, the protagonist is already in college, as specified in the text, she’s only in her freshman year which puts her age to 16. She reveals her close relationship with her uncle through her childhood memories of him which also reveals to us aspects of her uncle’s personality. One event that has significantly influenced her perception of the uncle despite her aunt’s words is what transpired after the uncle broke off with his first wife. A little girl shares a shot with her uncle and they share a common bond despite the slew of differences between them. It’s not directly stated that uncle’s ‘special lemonade’ is an alcoholic drink but it’s implied from her aunt’s reaction when she got back home. So what do they have in common? What bonds a little girl and a grown man together? It’s revealed here that the uncle is childlike, hence his affection for his niece and how easily they’ve bonded together. Her uncle is quite the poet; even the President pays a visit in his wake. He’s described as ‘…an extremely considerate man when sober…’ in the text, which also shows to the reader that he’s also quite the drunkard, which alienates him from his first wife. She tied him up in a chair while inebriated to teach him a lesson and also showed...
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