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What is the reason(s) for the speaker’s decision to commit suicide in "Suicide Note"...

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sara212 | Student, Undergraduate | Salutatorian

Posted October 13, 2010 at 2:56 PM via web

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What is the reason(s) for the speaker’s decision to commit suicide in "Suicide Note" by Janice Mirikitani?


We have to write an essay on "Suicide Note" by Janice Mirikitani. I need some points regarding this topic " the reasons for the speaker's decision to commit suicide in this poem."

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:00 AM (Answer #1)

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The speaker in this poem is a woman. Throughout the entire poem, the speaker gives the reason for committing suicide - it is because she "is not good enough" in the eyes of her parents. The note is for her parents.

not good enough not pretty enough not smart enough
dear mother and father.
I apologize
for disappointing you.

In her mind, the young woman believes she has disappointed her parents for just not measuring up to their expectations. Also, she is apologizing for being a girl, not a boy:

If only I were a son, shoulders broad
as the sunset threading through pine,
I would see the light in my mother's
eyes, or the golden pride reflected
in my father's dream

I read that this poem was inspired by an Asian-American college student having jumped from her dorm window because her grades were not high enough. In many Asian cultures, boys are more valued than girls. In some areas of China, for example, where families are allowed to only have one child, if a girl is born, the girl is put up for adoption or worse, left to die. This is why there are so many adopted babies in the U.S. from China, and most of them are girls. In any case, Asian families, even when they come to the U.S., are very hard working and motivated. The parents have high expectations for their children.

An Asian friend of mine tells me that in Chinese, there is even a phrase for a child in the family who has greatly pleased his/her parents, a child who is successful - and the translation for that phrase is "favored one."

So, bottom line to answer your question, why the suicide? TOO MUCH PRESSURE!

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