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Can you help me compare and contrast the literary elements and literary techniques in...

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happy99 | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted July 2, 2013 at 11:17 AM via iOS

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Can you help me compare and contrast the literary elements and literary techniques in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan?

"Two of a Kind" by Amy Tan
http://olsen-classpage.wikispaces.com/file/view/TwoKindsfulltext.pdf

"Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman
http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/wallpaper.html

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 4, 2013 at 7:15 PM (Answer #1)

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Two stories which deal with the issue of self-identity, "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Two of a Kind" have narratives presented from the first person point of view that tell of repression.

  • Narration

While both stories are told from the narrator's perspective, Amy Tan's narrator is a mature adult who looks back onto incidents from her childhood with an objective perspective; for instance, after her mother dies, Amy realizes that her subjugation to her mother's desire that she play the piano was not as oppressive as she has thought as a child. Returning to the piece which she played so badly at a competition many years ago, Amy writes,

I played a few bars, surprised at how easily the notes came back to me. 

but Charlotte Perkins Gilman's narrator speaks from her present in a repressed voice, "I am a comparative burden already!" This narration, too, is more stream-of-consciousness than objective. And, her repression causes the narrator to become paranoiac and delusional, and, thus, unreliable, whereas Amy as narrator is reflective and analytical and distanced from her situation. 

  • Theme

As narrator, Amy demonstrates her increasing sense of self as she asserts her independence from her mother:

I had new thought--....I won't let her change me, I promised myself. I won't be what I'm not.

Nevertheless, like Gilman's narrator, she is still repressed in her youth as she narrates,

I daydreamed about being somewhere else, about being someone else.

But, unlike Gilman's woman, who becomes insane in order to escape her repression, Amy becomes her real own person as she "felt stronger, as if my true self had finally emerged."

Two stories of women's lives, one is an objective reflection, a memoir, of youth and the matriarchal forces put upon a child who has achieved independence and reconciled with the parent while the other is a subjective and repressed narration that becomes enmeshed in illusion as an escape from the patriarchal forces exerted upon her, and as a means of finding some self-identity. 

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