The short story is told by a first person narrator, the mother, who is also the protagonist. Because the story is only seen through her eyes, it can be somewhat biased. The memories and understanding Of the new culture is only seen from her point of view, which makes it hard to respond to the conflict. The mother arrived in America with her husband and her daughter Pearl. Both the mother and father worked hard on a factory, which meant that they had little time to be home with Pearl. This resulted in a somewhat isolated childhood for Pearl, because she was not socializing with other people.
As the years progressed, a big contrast had grown between the mother and Pearl. Pearl is adapting the new culture, and therefore the preference between the two, increases. The mother on the other hand stays the same, unable to adapt to America. This is a big cliff between the two characters, because the mother is incapable of understanding her daughter’s American lifestyle. The mother feels the need to protect her child, by wanting her to stop dancing, because that is not something you can live on, at least not in her culture.
She is unable to see that the ballet can get her daughter an education and independence, which is a high priority for her. The mother is very religious, and seeks the Buddha acceptance of what she is about to do. Her religion plays a big role in what kind of character she is and also plays a significant role in her inability to adapt: “l understood nothing of these people who did not bow to our gods… ” (P. 3 11. 37-38) This makes the mother look narrow-minded, because she believes that her religion is ‘the right’ religion. The structure of the short story is shifting between present time and the past.
Respectively, between the mothers present actions praying to her Gods, and the past, which are memories of the arrival to America and the struggle of adapting to the new culture. The story contains a lot of flashbacks of the early ears of Pearl’s life, and until the present. The beginning of the story focuses on the main problem, which made the protagonist go to her Gods. As the story progresses the backstops to the conflict is known through various of flashbacks. The flashbacks give the reader an insight on how it all got to where it was.
It is also the mother’s explanation to the Gods and a form of justification of denying her daughter dancing ballet. Furthermore, the varied structure and obvious contrasts give the story a dynamic character, which makes it interesting to read. The story is pervaded with numerous of contrasts, to enlighten the reader of he struggle the protagonist is going through. Two main struggles are the difficulties of adapting and bringing up a child in a country which consists of dissimilar values and norms, so far from her own. The upbringing is great contrast.
The upbringing Pearl will receive in America is different from how the mother was raised. Different with education, language, culture, and norms. Therefore the main character is also scared of what might happen to the Chinese values, and if they are going to disappear entirely from Pearl’s life. Furthermore, Pearl is getting more integrated as the years go by. This means that the mother is unable to connect with her daughter anymore, and they are basically living to different lives. This means that pearl has to act as her mothers interpreter.
The essential contrast which permeate the short story is the contrast between the American- and Chinese culture. Throughout the story it is known that the mother values the Chinese culture, and is unable to comprehend the American lifestyle: “… L know, but these things are not for such as us. We who have lost everything cannot afford to be exceptional” (p. 6 II. 167-168) This is a great contrast to the American life. The and of opportunities is what America is called. Here, pursuing a career with your talent, and eventually gaining fame and fortune, is normal.
This is so far from the main characters values, and therefore she is unable to see how far the ballet could take her daughter. Furthermore, she wants Pearl to receive an education and make a living for herself, without depending on a man to take care of her. But on the other hand she wants to decide for her daughter and decide her future for her. She is sorry she did not take action before it went this far, and fears that the evil winds have already taken her daughter, o where she is unable to reach her.
The religious aspect is significant in the story too, because the mother is unable to think above her religion, in a country which accommodates so many different religions. There is a great difference between immigrating to a country, when you are already grown up, and being a small child capable of adapting the new values. Therefore, it is necessary to combine the best of both worlds, continuing to keep things from the original culture, while adapting some from the new; to create a balance. As the title of the story indicates, ‘Where the Gods Fly ‘ which is a place of where inner peace is reached.