China Men - The Brother in Vietnam
In her tale, "The Brother in Vietnam," author Maxine Hong Kingston relates the drastic misinterpretation of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" on the part of the "brother's" students. It is clear to the reader that their disillusioned thoughts and ideas of the world were instilled in their vulnerable minds by their own parents at young ages, an occurrence that still takes place in our society today. In his account of the situation, the brother first clearly makes a note that these confused and suspicious students comprise not one of his elementary classes, but rather his only non-remedial class. From this he is evidently implying that one would expect a heightened ability to understand and more accurately analyze the power and beauty of great literature on the part of the students. Thus from the beginning, the reader is alerted to the fact that their confusion is not due to the difficulty of the material, but rather is the product of some underlying factor. In this way the students perceive this Shakespearean tragedy as a horror story, the mere thought of it shadowed in their minds by fear. They see the Montagues and Capulets as families driven mad; Verona as a plague-infested country where killing and marriage take place in dark regions alike. They infer from it that young love is dangerous, and by reading of a suicide made possible by a potion that was initially intended to preserve tender love instead of stealing it, their notions that there is evil in everything seem to be confirmed. The brother, frustrated and upset, is unable to "shift the emphasis" that the play has left on these youths, and he feels that he is to blame for "spoil[ing] the love story for a generation of students." The reader looking on from the outside, however, is able to see that the brother could not have prevented this warped learning no matter how hard he tried. For it seems that the fault lies in the parents of these young...
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