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Sips of Jasmine Tea

In: English and Literature

Submitted By theliar
Words 810
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Sips of Jasmine Tea
The short story “Sips of Jasmine Tea” takes place in a suburb in Canada at summertime in the 90’s. The main character, Louise is married to Hal. It’s not known exactly how old Louise and Hal are, but they’re most likely around 40 years old. Louise and Hal belong to the upper middle class in the Canadian society ( line 11 page 1: Hal wants air-conditioning in the house. He can afford it now Tim’s gone)
Together they have a son, Tim. He has recently left home to go to France to study. Louise has a friend, Kelly with whom she likes to go shopping and share food recipes. At first the reader gets the impression that Louise is just an ordinary Canadian wife, but after reading a few lines the reader will eventually get the impression that something is bothering Louise.
Louise keeps making up dreams, fantasizing about a different life closer to the way she used to live as a child, and freedom. One day fortuitously Louise starts talking to her neighbor Mrs. Wu, a Chinese woman who turns out to have a lot in common with Louise, she is fantasizing about another world as well. Just like Louise, Mrs. Wu turned out to meet a rich husband, which resulted in moving from her previous childhood home in Chinatown to a suburb, which caused a loss of cultural experiences and memories from her childhood. For Louise Mrs. Wu is a person she can speak to freely about her feelings, without her husband Hal interfering with his materialistic views of life, which hides the feelings underneath the surface, and doesn’t show them. Mrs. Wu is a person Louise can compare herself to in many way, which makes her feel calm and secure when she talks to her.
To elaborate; an important thing to notice is the fact that Louise is mainly missing her childhood, or at least longing for a different life with more space for her sufficient needs : (line 41-44 page 2: I take off my sandals and step down from the porch. I go over to the flowerbed by the picket fence, and I can’t help it, I step on the earth, just to feel it damp and muddy and squelching up between my toes, and I bend down and pick up a handful of it and rub it through my fingers. I stand up and the sprinkler brushes over me, showering me with water. The muddy earth and sprinkler reminds her of her childhood, it’s a bit childish, but fact remains that sometimes good memories and experiences from childhood have a tendency to frequently show up when people are unsatisfied with a part of the way they are currently living. Louise is being discriminated by Hal, she is forced not to mention her own opinion whenever she feels like doing it. She has no choice, but to let him take care of important matters. The lack of autonomy for Louise, makes her dream about white birds, (could be interpreted as a symbol of freedom), which throws her away for a limited time, away from the real world, and from the pressure she is dealing with from Hal’s side. Louise and Hal’s relationship is built by a source of old norms, (the husband earns the money, the wife cooks, takes care of the children and generally has nothing to say). Louise biggest issue is that she is a indirectly a prisoner, caught in the rich, lifeless and materialistic Canadian suburb. Her childhood roots based on non-materialistic views, makes it impossible for her to be a part of the life her husband and the citizens in her surroundings are living. She is floating around in a black hole that pulls her further and further away from the way she really wants to live her life.
Hal is the second most important character in the short story. He is a scientist, likes technology, and is afraid of dirt and diseases, because he works in a lab. His view of the society is very strict. He believes that the way to gain success is to be materialistic, and doesn’t understand how his wife feels totally different. He wants air condition instead of open windows, different from Louise who obviously doesn’t believe technology and materialistic way of life are the most important aspects of life. As mentioned earlier, Hal discriminates Louise, he is a tyrant or a dictator in the way he behaves, when he’s talking to her. Hal is a symbol of the old- fashioned way of living, where tolerance, love and understanding wasn’t necessary for a relationship.
What the title “Sips of Jasmine Tea”, really means, is that the sips of the tea reflects Louise’s life and past.

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