Thursday, December 9th, 2010...12:04 am

A Song For A Barbarian Reed Pipe

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I really enjoyed this section just really felt bad for Maxine. Imagine being told from her mother that she cut her tongue, “She pushed up my tongue up and sliced the frenum. Or maybe she snipped it with a pair of nail scissors. I don’t remember her doing it, only her telling me about it. ” (164) And for the reason is just ridiculous, “I cut it so you won’t be tongue tied / You’ll be able to speak (other) languages”(164). That’s why when asked if Maxine is going through madness or silence, I believe its both.

Throughout the chapter, Maxine talks about her life from early childhood to adulthood. In her early life, Maxine seemed to be very silent, “when I went to Kindergarten an had to speak English for the first time, I became silent” (165). At first I thought  it could of been because she didn’t feel comfortable with the language and became shy but she then mentioned that many other Chinese girls were just like her, silent.

I think her madness started once she began hating the other VERY quiet chinese girl. There was a sense of competition with her since Maxine hated that they were always picked last at the same time, “I hated her when she was the last chosen for her team and I, the last chosen for my team.” (173)

It could have been competition that maybe Maxine wanted to be known as the quietest girl in school or maybe she was just jealous of the girl because she was pampered and didn’t have to work like Maxine did. I don’t know what the reason could have been that made her torture the other girl but she did it regardless of the consequences, “I reached up (she was taller than I) and took a strand of hair. I pulled it. ‘Well, then, let’s honk your hair,’ I said. ‘Honk. Honk.’ Then I pulled the other side –‘ho-o-n-nk’- a long pull; ‘ho-o-n-n-nk’- a longer pull. I could see her little white ears, like white cutworms curled underneath the hair. ‘Talk!’ I yelled into each cutworm. “ (177)

Maxine also started seeing things in her mind. Not only did she have nightmares but talking to people in her imagination, “I thought every house had to have its crazy woman or crazy girl, every village its idiot. Who would be It at our house? Probably me.” (189) I think all her life experiences with her mother and the way she treated her is a reason for her madness. When Maxine decided to tell her mother about the list of over two hundred things she has done, her mother didn’t seem to care, “I don’t feel like hearing your craziness.” (200)

That’s when Maxine finally exploded : (201-202)

“You think you can give us away to freaks”

 ” I can make a living and take care of myself”

” I am not going to be a slave or a wife”

” I cant stand living here anymore”

” I don’t want to listen to any more of your stories ; they have no logic”

” you lie with your stories”

And my favorite :

” Ha! You can’t stop me from talking. You tried to cut off my tongue. but it didn’t work”

I felt that Maxine had all these things stored inside her that when there was no more space, she finally exploded. Her mom of course didn’t take it well and Maxine had to leave. It worked as a learning experience for Maxine as she mentioned, ” Be careful what you say. It comes true.” She was able to learn about the real world after that and as seen in Shaman she was able to make peace with her mother, “Goodnight, Little Dog.” (109)

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