Asian American Study R2A
4 October 2010
In the story “Birthday”, written by David Wong Louie, Wallace, the main character,
struggles to accept the reality. At first, he convinces himself to believe in the false ideas that he is
Welby’s father and that the boy he loves is still the same child he knows. However, at moments
when confronted with traces of the truth, Wallace questions the validity of his fantasy. This self-
doubting behavior makes the narrator lose control over himself and the things around him.
Ultimately, Wallace will give up his impractical beliefs and recognizes the truth. In doing so, he
will gain more control. In essence, when Wallace denies both facts that Frank is the boy’s father
and that Welby has changed, he has little control over himself and his relationship with the boy.
However, after he recognizes both facts as reality and abandons his fantasy, he has much more
control over the two. The author illustrates these two ideas through Wallace’s encounter with
Frank, his attempt to connect to Welby, and his cake making at the end.
Wallace blinds himself with fantasy when he rejects the fact that Frank is the boy’s
father. The narrator knows that “[he has] no rights except those that come with love” and that
“the court says the boy belongs to the man, the boy’s father”, but he still believes that he and
Frank are “equals”, since “the boy calls [them] both by [their] first names” (Louie 3). This idea is
what keeps Wallace trapped in his fantasy. Although he knows that the court rules that Frank, the
biological father, should have legal guardianship to the boy, he still believes that the boy’s
feelings, rather than the judicial judgments, should decide who the father is. In essence, Wallace
sees and knows the reality but does not accept it.