Chinese Cinderella

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Adeline Yen Mah’s ‘Chinese Cinderella’ is the story of pain, rejection and triumph. Mental pain, contempt and cruelty were the harsh realities of her life. But the will to succeed and win recognition proved to be powerful motivating factors. The subtext is based in the years 1940-1950 and on memoirs of Adeline’s childhood. This extract is based on one of the few occasions when she went home. The title has a dreamy fairy tale like tone. It is used in an ironic manner and appropriately chosen. This extract has an autobiographical tone as Adeline relates her personal experiences. The words ‘rejected’, ’despised’, ‘left there’ describe her relationship with her family and reveal the unhappiness of her Cinderella. Her love for education helps her to escape to freedom. The 1st person narrative highlights the parent-child attitude and the writer’s character. The writer starts the narrative by creating a very dull, sultry atmosphere with the radio warning of a storm brewing to highlight Adeline’s nervousness about going home permanently from boarding school and the storm brewing in her life. For Adeline, home was not a place of comfort, security or happiness as for a normal child. School and studies were her only way to gain recognition. The tragic lack of love and parental concern is evident in Adeline’s reaction to ‘the thought of leaving school’ which disturbed her deeply. The ellipse ‘…’ brings out her anxiety at having to go home. She uses the phrases ‘Time dragged on relentlessly’, ‘eight weeks more’, ‘end of school forever’ and the striking everyday simile ‘throbbed in the back of my mind like a persistent toothache’ to emphasize her fear, her pessimism and dread of leaving school and going home to live. ‘Loosing steadily’ is used as a pun as she is literally looking in the game of Monopoly and figuratively losing the battle of life with her family. Children in boarding school look forward to visitors and unexpected...
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