May 17, 2007
In May-Lee Chais’ short story, “Saving Sourdi”, and Langston Hughes’ Poem, “Harlem” both explore human struggle through theme, symbolism, and tone.
In “Saving Sourdi” theme shows how Chais’ character Nea is resistant to change. When the story opens Nea is in the family restaurant with her sister Sourdi, Nea watches this man harass her sister. Nea grabs a knife and stabs the man. When Sourdi explains to Nea that she cannot function this way Nea simply tells Sourdi “I shoulda killed him! I shoulda killed that sucker!” (Chai 111). Sourdi tells Nea she can be this type of person , but being resistant to change Nea simply gets mad and says to Sourdi, “I was trying to protect you” ( Chai 112). This resistance in change results in Neas demise. Neas’ will to protect often clouds her judgment and sometimes leads her into trouble because of her rash decisions. an example of Neas’ clouded judgment would be the instance where she saw Sourdi with a black eye. Instead of Nea asking what happened. Nea immediately suspected spousal abuse when in actuality it was a box of baby wipes that caused the bruised eye.
Throughout both of these literary works symbolism is a recurring presence. In “Saving Sourdi” Nea takes on the form of the Naga. In Chinese culture the Naga was a magical serpent whom had a mouth so wide that it could swallow people whole. In Neas’ circle of irrational decisions and overprotective nature her actions symbolically swallowed the people around her whole. In the story Nea here’s her mother talking to Sourdi about the strains of being a married woman. During the course of this conversation Nea overhears her sister crying. When Nea asks what happened to Sourdi. Her mother simply sweeps the question under the mat saying nothing happened. Immediately Nea figures that something has happened and calls Sourdi’ childhood sweetheart Duke and says,”Duke! It’s important! It’s...