Final Paper

Final Paper - John Abrusci ENRU 1000-033 Close Reading and...

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John Abrusci ENRU 1000-033 Close Reading and Critical Writing Final Paper From Korea With Love: A Critical Analysis of The Foreign Student At first glance, Susan Choi’s novel, the Foreign Student , seems to stress Chang and Katherine’s struggle to forget their traumatic past and find a happy future together. After all, the reader witnesses Chang’s attempt to start a new life in the United States without the horrors of the Korean War and Katherine’s attempt to start a new life in Sewanee without the horrors of her affair with Charles Addison, not to mention a mutual desire to build a relationship that will provide closure from their pasts. Early in the novel, the reader sees Katherine’s obviously growing affection for Chang when the two of them are driving back to Sewanee: “I find it easy to be quiet with you…If I’m quiet it’s a friendly kind of quiet” (55). When Katherine asks him if that makes sense, Chang admits his affection with a bashful, “Yes. I like this idea” (55). However, such a conception of the novel fails to explain why both Katherine and Chang repeatedly reflect on and rely on past traumas to advance their lives. True freedom from the past would seem to mean never needing to speak or think of it again. Yet, Charles Addison and Chang’s nightmares seem to constantly appear and interrupt Chang and Katherine’s developing relationship. This, in fact, suggests that perhaps Chang and Katherine have not found their desired escape from their pasts. Failure to examine why Chang and Katherine cannot escape from their pasts may result in a misunderstanding of the role a loving relationship. Indeed, a more careful inspection of the novel will confirm the past’s permanence, healed only by a loving relationship. Therefore, the necessity lies not in forgetting the past completely, but rather, in healing the past through the powers of
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a healthy, loving relationship. Throughout the novel, Choi suggests that traumas of the past are capable of inflicting emotional scars that can affect one’s present and future life. The past plays a very large role in Choi’s novel, serving as a sort of antagonist against the two protagonists, Chang and Katherine. The very layout of the novel stresses the importance of the past, as the book shifts between the pasts of Chang and Katherine with every passing chapter. Chang’s past is focused mainly on his time spent in Korea during the Korean War. Through these flashbacks of the past, the reader learns about Chang’s youth and what his life was like growing up in Korea while American troops occupied and ruled his homeland. The reader also learns of Chang’s childhood friend, Kim, who plays an important role in Chang’s life, especially towards the novel’s end. Chang believes that he sees Kim at the novel’s end when he is being tortured for his duties as a “spy,” and this causes him to recall more from his painful past, suggesting as Choi points out throughout the novel that the past is an ever-lingering cause of trauma. However, Chang
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This note was uploaded on 04/27/2008 for the course ENRU 1100 taught by Professor Greenfield during the Spring '07 term at Fordham.

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Final Paper - John Abrusci ENRU 1000-033 Close Reading and...

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