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In "Seventeen Syllables," how do the life options of Rosie and Tome resemble each other?

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user4858760 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted April 11, 2013 at 4:17 PM via web

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In "Seventeen Syllables," how do the life options of Rosie and Tome resemble each other?

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 11, 2013 at 5:40 PM (Answer #1)

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When Tome was still living in Japan, she was in love with another young man. But the young man's parents were financially wealthy while Tome's father was poor, a gambler, and a drunk. She became pregnant and lost the child at birth. Since there was little to no possibility of marrying this young man and since she felt disgraced, she determined to either commit suicide or go to America. Thus, she was forced to marry a man, Mr. Hayashi, whom she had not yet met. Having been married to dependable but selfish Mr. Hayashi for years, Tome began to use poetry as a way to at least imagine herself in another life. Mr. Hayashi symbolically destroys this dream when he burns the first prize she's won. Tome reveals her story to Rosie and asks her to never get married. 

Rosie's life has, up to this point, not been as harsh as Tome's. Rosie has feelings for Jesus. In fact, she is just beginning to seriously entertain romantic thoughts when all of this occurs. This is where Tome's and Rosie's life options seem to be similar. Tome could not marry the man she loved and was forced to choose alternatives. Just as Rosie is beginning to experience love, she is not exactly forced but she is encouraged by her mother to ignore such feelings and never get married. Rosie feels that her mother's advice is poorly timed: 

Rosie, covering her face, began at last to cry, and the embrace and consoling hand came much later than she expected. 

In different circumstances but for similar reasons, both women are told and encouraged to avoid marrying or being involved with the men they have true feelings for. 

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