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In Amy Tan's short story, "A Pair of Tickets," from her collection The Joy Luck Club, the narrator sees her father in a much different light when they travel together to China.
Jing-Mei is the narrator, and in memory of her dead mother, she and her father, Canning Woo, travel to China, where he and his wife were born. Her father, at the time, is seventy-two years old, and has been away for China for many years.
The first new impressions Jing-Mei has come from watching her dad as they travel through the countryside in the train.
I don't know whether it's the prospect of seeing his aunt or if it's because he's back in China, but now he looks like he's a young boy, so innocent and happy I want to button his sweater and pat his head.
Rather than feeling like the child in the relationship herself, Jing-Mei senses the child still living in her father, and she wants to straighten his clothes and pat his head as a mother might do, for a child she loves.
Another way Jing-Mei sees her father in a new light also occurs during the train ride.
For the first time I can ever remember, my father has tears in his eyes, and all he is seeing out the train window is a sectioned field of yellow, green, and brown, a narrow canal flanking the tracks, low rising hills, and three people in blue jackets riding an ox-driven cart on this early October morning.
This section of the story shoes the depth of emotion stirring within her father, and Jing-Mei notes that she has never seen him cry before in her entire life.
When her father is reunited with his aunt, Aiyi, once again Jing-Mei sees the child that still lives within him.
...But my father is staring down at this tiny sparrow of a woman, squinting into her eyes. And then his eyes widen, his face opens up and he smiles like a pleased little boy.
'Aiyi! Aiyi!'—Auntie! Auntie!—he says softly.
'Syau Yen!' coos my great-aunt. I think it's funny she has just called my father "Little Wild Goose."
As Jing-Mei watches her father return to the land of his birth, and family members he has been long-separated from, or has never met, she sees him in a setting that may be new to her, but not to him. And seeing him placed so differently in this alien world, and watching the years roll off of him, Jing-Mei is able to see her father in a new light, reacting as he did when he was a child living in China.
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