Summary Of Chang-Rae Lee's Native Speaker

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Although the book, Native Speaker, by Chang-Rae Lee, is mainly about how people of other cultures try to fit into America, and to its customs and language, there is one exception: Henry’s wife, Lelia. Lelia does not try to assimilate in to American culture, because she is part of the American culture. When Lelia first met Henry, she told him that she was the “standard-bearer” of the English language. Adults and children alike come to America, but most are deemed as different, and looked down upon because of the way they speak English; so they look to Lelia as an example. Many of the children come to her to correct their “broken” English. Her job is to teach the children how to speak English properly. Even though Lelia recalls that Henry speaks…show more content…
She knows that she is strictly American too, with her lengthy build, pale skin, and perfect English. Her American culture prevents her from going on a deeper level with others of different cultural backgrounds. For instance, her marriage with Henry was troubled by the clash of cultures. One culture, the American one, would emphasize on noise and talking and emotions, and the other Korean culture was completely different; it was less intimate and quiet. Because of the way that Henry was brought up, he doesn’t express his emotions as much; he’s learned to hide his inner feelings, just as his mother did. Henry learned from his mother that showing emotions was a sign of weakness between people. His mother believed “that displays of emotion signaled a certain failure between people”. His mother couldn’t stand the notion of being exposed and vulnerable. That is why his mother tries so hard to possess “the most exquisite control over the muscles of her face.” When Henry does this to Lelia, it frustrates Lelia because she isn’t used to being around people that acted like this and despised it. Lelia grew up with “hollerers and criers”, so she felt as if Henry wasn’t trying to do anything to reconnect with her after arguments, or problems, such as their son’s death; because it looked as if he didn’t care as much as what she thought he

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