Foreign Bodies

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When All is Lost, Faith Remains
Many people find themselves in a constant struggle of faith. These individuals are often questioning if there is a God, and if there is how does one know. In Hwee Hwee Tan’s novel, Foreign Bodies, there is a struggle of faith in each of the four main characters. Mei and Andy are two of these characters that are able to come to faith in the Christian God after life altering experiences. These experiences have caused each of them to analyze and attack life in different ways. Each of these individuals have been able to overcome a treacherous past, and find faith, hope, desire and justice in their futures through Tan’s novel. Mei’s religious views are consistent throughout the novel, Foreign Bodies. Though she was born into a Confucianism based family, Mei chose at a young age to throw her traditional Singaporean beliefs to the side, and walk in the light of God, with her Uncle Cheong’s guidance, through faith in Christianity.

It was a brutal shock to Mei’s grandfather when he finds out she no longer believes in her family’s faith. This conversation arises as Mei’s grandfather is telling her how to reduce her time in hell. “After I die, you going to feed me or not?” Gong Gong is shocked when Mei replies that she will be unable to. He immediately responds by asking who is responsible for the change in Mei’s beliefs. He is not surprised when she responds with Uncle Cheong.

As a child everyone has a hero they look up to. Uncle Cheong is Mei’s hero. “In my eyes Uncle Cheong could do no wrong. Even his farts smelled like Aramis No. 7. With the heart of Mother Teresa and the body of Tom Cruise, Uncle Cheong was my hero…” Mei’s adoration allowed herself to be susceptible to Uncle Chong’s stories and views of God. She loved when he would tell her stories about her newfound savior.

A key role in the strengthening of Mei’s faith in God was due to the incident at Red Hill. Mei has oppressed this tragedy in her memory for...
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