Last essay x - Lee 1 Tom Lee Professor Leong Asian American...

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Lee 1 Tom Lee Professor Leong Asian American Study R2A 10 December 2010 Oppression through dehumanization The stories in Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre take place in a strongly male dominated society where severe gender inequality persists. In this setting, most of the power lies in the hands of men, and women are left with little control over anything. In fact, the males have so much more power than the females that the former is able to oppress the latter. Oppression is a group of people’s exercise of authority or power over another group of people in a burdensome, cruel, or unjust manner. But just to what extent are the females being oppressed? The author of this book reveals the horrible truth to this question in her work. Throughout the stories, she shows that men oppress women to the point that they are being treated as less than human. In the book Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre , Yamanaka uses Kala’s experience with Jimmy boy and a mother's upbraiding to her raped daughter to illustrate how the men oppress the young girls by treating them as mere sex objects. In the ‘forced’ relationship Kala has with Jimmy boy, the latter treats the former as an object that he seeks sexual pleasure from. The first line Jimmy says to Kala is, “When you going to kiss me?” (18) Without any introduction on Jimmy boy, Yamanaka opens the two’s relationship with this line. This lack of background on the new character makes it is safe to assume that Kala has known Jimmy for only a short period of time. However, finding such a question in a young relationship does not make sense, for a kiss usually comes some time after the building up of a relationship. The incongruence between the question and the development
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Lee 2 level of the relationship indicates that Jimmy is merely seeking physical intimacy from Kala. By asking the question with such shallow desire, he puts her in the position of an object that satisfies him sexually. And his question “when you” (18) instead of ‘are you’ denies Kala’s right to not “kiss [him]” (18), further showing that the oppression reduces her to serve as a sex object. When Jimmy boy calls Kala over with “eh-eh” (18), Kala realizes that he “neva call [her] by [her] name” (18). This is Kala’s first impression on Jimmy boy at the beginning of their relationship, and already the guy deprives her identity as human. A person’s “name” (18) is the most basic identification one is given as human being. With Jimmy labeling her as “eh-eh” (18), Kala receives no respect from him and is viewed as someone not worth identifying for. Slowly, her human qualities and rights are being taken away under men’s oppression. As the story unfolds, Jimmy boy oppresses Kala more and more by sexually objectifying
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This note was uploaded on 02/11/2012 for the course ENGLISH R1A taught by Professor Meganpugh during the Spring '09 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Last essay x - Lee 1 Tom Lee Professor Leong Asian American...

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