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Struggle in Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie” and Graham Greene’s “The End of the Party”

The Morton twins, Peter and Francis, are the central characters in Graham Greene’s “The End of the Party.” The two brothers are welcomed to a Mrs. Henne-Falcon children’s party, which Francis is hesitant to attend but eventually agrees when Mrs. Green persuades him. Francis is also terrified of the darkness, which is a challenge for him during the party since the kids must play hide and seek in the dark. Francis’s twin brother, Peter, takes considerable measures to ensure that he is safe, even approaching Mrs. Henne-Falcon to get Francis excused from the celebration. The tale chronicles Francis’ struggle throughout the celebration, as well as Peter’s efforts to protect and soothe his brother and keep him safe. Mother and her son Jack are the central characters in Ken Liu’s short tale “The Paper Menagerie.” The story focuses on the two characters’ different upbringing and cultural customs and simultaneously leads us through the events and occurrences as their lives intertwine and become entangled. The narrative depicts a love-hate connection between a mother and her kid. The narrative recounts the struggles of a family attempting to integrate into American society.

Francis is facing a significant uphill battle to integrate himself into a party that he is hesitant to participate in in the first place. At the party, he seems uneasy and nervous about something. Throughout the party’s development process, Francis is subjected to internal and external struggles, which some could consider unnecessary. Nonetheless, Francis’s struggles are understandable in this regard since he is just nine years old. Other people would be unjust if they disregarded his sentiments and pushed him to undertake something he was not prepared to do. In Liu’s narrative, Jack, the main character, suffers from her mother’s lousy treatment while she is alive. Jack has been estranged from his mother, whom he perceives as inflexible and perpetual, and his loss of her has not affected him. Nevertheless, the true challenge begins when he receives origami folding from an unknown source, which he incorrectly believes to be from his mother. Jack is torn between accepting reality and holding out hope that her mother is still alive and not lost to the world forever. His terrible treatment of her upset him, and he finds it difficult to cope with it rationally.

Because Jack and his mother are Chinese, the fundamental struggle in “The Paper Menagerie” is to assimilate into American society. Jack attempts to persuade his mum to become more “American.” Jack realized he was distinctive from the other students at school and struggles to fit in. He has been dealing with a lot of bullying and bigotry from other students at school, which has caused him to deny his Chinese origin and damaged his relationship with his mother. He also tells his mother that they “should eat American food” (Liu 69). Her mother is also struggling to get Jack to accept his Chinese heritage and overcome his racism due to other people’s racist actions. On the other hand, Jack detests her and even refuses to eat her food, leaving her in a state of despair and helplessness. Peter and Francis’ friendship has also been strained. Unlike Jack and her mother’s, the twins’ troubles are outward. Peter is exceptionally protective of her brother and goes out of his way to make him feel safe and secure. The same can be said for Jack’s mother, who strives to ensure that Jack values his Chinese heritage. Peter struggles to ensure that his brother has the finest life experiences possible, free of fear and hardship. He even keeps an eye on him when he sleeps to ensure he’s alright. On the other hand, Francis struggles to sleep and has nightmares, including one in which he dreams of his death (Greene 1). As people struggle to relieve one other’s problems, the twins’ troubles parallel Jack and her mother in one way or another.

The loss of their loved ones is the climax of the theme of struggle in these two tales. When Jack thinks back on how he treated his mother, the notion of parental love exacerbates her problems. Her mother fought to maintain contact with him, but Jack further alienated her, difficult for even the reader to accept. Despite her most significant attempts to blend in, Jack’s mother frequently irritates and embarrasses him. She finally gives up. She reveals her terrible life experience and the challenges and agony she went through due to his rejection in her letter. This is the most difficult of her many struggles with her son. Peter’s worry for Francis is palpable in “The End of the Party,” and he even knows where he is hiding and chooses to comfort him. Peter, on the other hand, accidentally murders Francis by frightening him (Greene 8). Francis has not only died, but Peter’s compassion for him has also led to Francis’ demise. This is the most terrible aspect of Peter’s heartbreaking struggle to ensure Francis’ comfort during the party.

A common theme of struggle links the two stories. Jack’s mother tries to be a part of Jack’s life in Ken Liu’s “The Paper Menagerie,” but Jack ignores and alienates her. Jack also finds it challenging to integrate into American society and faces bigotry due to his Chinese looks. Francis struggles to attend a birthday celebration in Graham Greene’s “The End of the Party,” since he does not want to go. He is also terrified of darkness, which is his biggest struggle and a factor in his demise. On the other side, Peter’s battle is to keep Francis safe. On the other hand, he becomes the cause of his death, which was his biggest nightmare.

Works Cited

Greene, Graham. The end of the party. Creative Education, 1993.

Liu, Ken. The Paper Menagerie. Head of Zeus, 2016.


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