The Paper Menagerie was written by a Chinese-American author of science fiction and fantasy. The antagonist of this short story is Jack, the main character itself. I found that the author makes Jack to be appears as an aggressive and immature boy in this story. He despised his Chinese mother and he struggles to accept his mother’s heritage as his own. He seems to loathe his own mother when he met an American boy named Mark when they moved to a new town. Mark downgraded Jack when Jack brought out his only toys, a few animals menagerie made by his mother and he told him that those menageries were made from trash. The mental torment continues at school by Mark. As a result, Jack somewhat irritated and insulted by it and he started to hate his own mother. He got mad when his mother talked in Chinese as he wanted to get rid of everything that is related to Chinese. Jack felt it was humiliating to be a Chinese in White society and even he couldn’t believe he was born from a Chinese woman. Jack was easily influenced by all the judgment made by his American friends. In my opinion, it is obvious that Jack is in denial of his own heritage as he was influenced by the society which all Asians were imperfect.
There is also a protagonist character in this short story and it would be Jack’s mother. She is a Chinese immigrant that live in the United States with her white husband and her lovely son. She is a kind and loving mother. Her relationship with Jack was used to be good, she has introduced Chinese traditions to Jack, which he happily accepts at first. However, everything has changed after they moved to a new town and their mother-son bond was estranged. Jack would raise his voice and shout “English!” when she speaks in Chinese. Jack also stored all of the paper menageries that were made by her in a shoebox. Despite all the bad treatments that were thrown by her own son, she is willing to change herself to be that kind of mother that Jack wanted. She sacrificed her happiness, her Chinese traditions just to be accepted by Jack. She tried to learn English to fit in in the society so that people will treat her fairly like others. Unfortunately, as Jack grown up, he seems like he did not care about her anymore until she died. In my opinion, Jack’s mother is an exemplary of a loving mother when she would do whatever it takes to make her child happy although deep down in her heart she is hurting.
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