Construct a different ending for "Birthday" by Alfian bin Sa'at using first person perspective. Include how a chosen characters would react to what is happening based on their personality trait....

Construct a different ending for "Birthday" by Alfian bin Sa'at using first person perspective. Include how a chosen characters would react to what is happening based on their personality trait.  At the same time, incorporate sensory details with how a particular character feels and thinks about what they have done.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that an alternate ending to "Birthday" could involve Rosminah leaving her home.  This particular ending would reflect much of Rosminah's characterization. It pivots away from a melancholic resolution towards one of empowerment.  Writing it in the first person could pick up where she brings out the sandwich maker and then reflects upon seeing it. The ending could look like fairly powerful as this transition into Rosminah's own mind grabs a hold of the reader:

As I looked at the sandwich maker, everything came into my mind.  I saw everything.  The fifty dollar bill, costing my husband that much, the hunger in not eating, the kids' getting their toys, and slowly feeling myself wither away.  The sandwich maker had small crusts of bread off the edges and for a moment, I saw myself as those crusts of bread:  Discarded, no longer needed, at one point serving a purpose and then recognizing that I was cut adrift from what was whole. Waiting to be swept up and thrown out.   I wanted to throw out the sandwich maker.  I wanted to throw it at him. I was no longer going to be at his side.  I took the sandwich maker and walked out the door.

This needs to be expanded into a fuller rewrite of the ending.  Yet, it can be a starting point.  This pivot away from the ending of throwing the sandwich maker out the window and rather taking it with her as she leaves leads to an ending of empowerment.  It also allows some of bin Sa'at's stream of consciousness to enter as Rosminah looks at the sandwich maker and sees the crusts of bread, likened to her own condition.  These sensory details can be expanded into an entire ending where the smallest of details reflect the largest of themes.

In expanding the ending to one in which Rosminah leaves, one can enter into her own mind and see the impact of social reality on her thoughts.  In the story, she throws out the sandwich maker, almost accepting the reality that denies her social and material voice.  In the rewrite, she repudiates this by walking out on her husband and family, a setting in which her own voice and dreams are blighted.  She could leave to go with Kala, and the two of them could find solidarity in one another and away from a condition that denies both of them voice. This ending allows the reader to enter Rosminah's thoughts and builds from the condition that had been present throughout the narrative.  The key change is that in the rewrite her melancholy leads to progressive action.  In a way, the sandwich maker becomes the best of birthday presents.  It is not a weight that Rosminah feels pressure to reciprocate as much as it is a statement of being in which she is able to see her own freedom.  The sandwich maker that Kala gives can allow Rosminah to find her own voice, the best birthday present of all.  It is for this reason that it would be logical for her to take it and go to Kala, where both of them can find solidarity with one another.  In this ending, one is able to experience a moment of empowerment in Rosminah's life, where dreams and hopes are not eliminated, but rather realized.


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