The short story takes place in a hotel where the heroine is awaiting his boyfriend. There are different themes that have been developed throughout the story. This part of the story analysis will discuss the different themes that are evident in the short story. The paper will analyze the major themes in the story. Throughout the short story, there is the theme of love between the narrator and Xia. The second theme that will be analyzed is the theme of conflict. Conflict exists between the inner thoughts of the narrator. There is also conflict between the narrator and the surrounding environment. The contrasting theme is as well brought out. There is a contrast between the narrator and Xia which will also be analyzed in the essay. The theme of courage will be the last theme to reflect on.
One of the themes in the short story is love. The heroine is in love with Xia. She had been wondering how she would explain the love issue to Xia and how he would react to the issue concerning her profession. She had lied to him that she was a Cosmetician rather than telling him the truth about her career. The fear of losing a loved one which made the narrator go to the extent of lying shows lots of love. Xia loved her and even expressed his feelings for her. He told her that he would never leave her, and they would grow old together as a couple no matter what. Xia was happy about her, but she was afraid and felt sad in his hear as she knew he would react the same way other people did when they came to learn about her occupation.
When he finally learned about the occupation he was shocked beyond belief. He forgot his previous promises of never to leave her. He let out a loud yell and ran. He fled down the streets after learning the news. Aunt Yifen never saw him again. This shows he did not love her as he said it. Love is an indispensable element for all the human beings. Love brings happy feelings among the people who love one another. Love makes people forget all the miserable moments that they have had and embrace hope for the future. The people who live in the world where there is no love feel lonely and doom to fail.
The narrator deserves sympathy. She is desperate and does not believe she can ever get a husband due to her occupation. The situation can make us infer a lot about the narrator. The narrator might have been in a catastrophe before. We can also infer that her fear results from seeing what happens to other persons like her, an example of Aunt Yifen and her love life. It is very sad of her to reach this conclusion as it is the desire of every woman to have a man to protect in times of trouble; the man should also make promises to a woman concerning a happy future. The narrator is not an exception, and it’s difficult for her to find a man because of her profession. There is a major question about the situation she is in, why does she keep insisting on a job that makes people distance from her while she can change the profession to one that will make her be at peace?
The conflict theme is evident in the short story. While the narrator was at the coffee shop, she was at conflict with her inner self. The conflict involved telling the truth to her boyfriend concerning her true profession. In the coffee shop, she appeared happy but in her heart she had lots of sorrow. It was too late to avoid him and spare him the agony of realizing the truth later as she had already accepted him into his life when she agreed to go out for movies and go on a trip to visit one of his classmates. There are lots of conflicts thoughts that go through the mind of the narrator. She loves going out for movies, but she fears to tell Xia the truth about his profession for fear of rejection and hearting him. The conflict that exists in her mind torments her. The conflict also exists in the woman’s outer soul where the narrator describes it as a dog eats dog society. The world for her is a tragedy. Her job cannot be respected and understood, but everyone, however, needs it at his or her final chapter.
Contrast is another theme that is seen in the short story. What is natural to the man is monstrous to the woman. What is sweet smelling (flowers) to the man indicates or shows death to the woman. The notions the man has been likely to reek of a naiveté or a hypocrisy that is collective and one which allows the woman to recoil. She has a comfortable life with the dead people. The man sees nature as beautiful while the woman who frequently engages with the dead encounters nature in an absolute naked form and a more complicated place of horror.
The narrator is assured of economic security and a job which will not come to an end. The workplace community, in which she is working, is one which is perfectly serene. The narrator seems to be in the footsteps of her Aunt Yifen, who lost the man she loved when she revealed her occupation to her. She has the belief that the same fate will befall her. For the young couple who died intertwined who were in the suicide pack, she refused the gift of her adept fingers. The reason for this is that she believes that those who do not have the courage to pass life she will not assist them in passing death. The story shows her personal reflection process.
The narrator has mother bravery love and the encouragement and courage she gets from her Aunt makes her realize that the people do not reach up to her standards. The narrator is capable of finding another job but despite the life challenges she loves her job since she finds it interesting since the dead stop putting on masks and performing. In fact, she helps them resume and put on their final masks in their final journey. There is a sharp irony that exists in matching Xia summer like physique, the presence and also name against Xias external night the dark positioning inside the coffee house.
The short story also brings out the theme of courage. The aunt to the narrator chooses her since she is courageous and timid. The aunt once asked her whether she was afraid that she replied she was not. This is the reason Aunt Yifen selected her as her successor. The Aunt had a premonition that the fate of the narrator and hers were similar, and no one could explain how they grew to be so much alike. The two had similar characteristics, and there was no fear that existed in either of the two. The narrator stood by Aunt Yifen side and watched her as she reddened the lips of the dead people that had already become rigid. She also observed Aunt Yifen work on a pair of long-staring eyes which she coaxed into a restful sleep. At the time, she did this; she used to talk to the dead.
The writer was honest to all his friends about his occupation, but it made them loose his friendship. The friends to a person are important, and they can be of help in times of need. The friends are the people who support and encourage us. A person who loses his friends, as the narrator did loses a meaning of life. Such a person will have no one to talk to and will be living a lonely life. Due to his occupation the narrator can only talk to those friends who are sleeping. This has made her lose the ability to communicate with other friends. The narrator is lonely and li9ves in a lonely environment. This may make the narrator develop some mental problems if she keeps the job. The major question the reader is left thinking is whether she should keep the job or not. She is living in an environment that is bleak and one that lacks vigor.
The narrator has a life to death experience. She is very excited when she sees Xia carrying a bouquet of flowers and approaching her. The thoughts that go through the two persons’ minds are totally different. The narrator interprets this as a sign of parting while the Xia has love going through her mind. In her mind she already has a bad omen that they will eventually break up.
The themes have been brought up gradually in the short story. The woman dresses and touches the dead people, but it seems she loves her profession and will not leave sit despite the many disadvantages that come with it. This includes losing a lifelong partner whom she treasures and values most. Her friends are afraid of her since she touches and meets dead people every day. The people are always scared about the things that they do not know. Since the girl cosmetics for the people who are dead, they think that by staying with her they will die. This is superstition and is not true. This job is a job like any other and a job that is gracious and should be respected. By dressing up the dead, the families of the dead see a beautiful and also serene people. Her profession helps the people comfort their sad hearts. The story has a more contemporary feel to it, and it is constructed upon a landscape of materialism and plasticity, and it refers to the latest market structures, and it is set in the contemporary time.
Xi, Xi. “A Woman Like Me.” The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. Trans. Howard Coldblatt. 2nd ed. New York: Columbia UP, 2007. 303-313. Print.