Amy Tan Questions and Answers

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Next, after reading "A Pair of Tickets," briefly answer the following questions about Setting: Where does the story take place? What does setting suggest about the characters' lives? Are there significant differences in the settings for different characters? What does this suggest bout each person? When does the story take place? Is the time of the year or time of day significant? Does a change in the setting during the story suggest some internal change in the protagonist?

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Amy Tan's story, "A Pair of Tickets" describes both a physical and emotional journey experienced by Jing Mei Woo and Canning Woo, her father. Jing Mei's mother is recently deceased, and the pair have set out to visit various relatives before their final destination wherein Jing Mei will finally meet her half sisters.

The bulk of the story takes place as they travel to meet relatives, but there are many flashbacks and sub-stories that we encounter along the way. The setting of the story in present tense remains the same for the characters, but the flashbacks and sub-stories vary widely in date and place. Jing Mei recalls conversations with her mother in her youth in California, and stories are told of Jing Mei's mother in China when she was young and made the fateful decision to leave her daughters behind.

Jing Mei and her father have a pair of tickets on a train to meet relatives from afar, and ultimately to meet Jing Mei's half sisters, who Jing Mei's mother had to abandon when they were merely infants.

Jing Mei grew up in California, so her flashbacks to her mother take place there. As the story begins, Jing Mei knows little about her half sisters. Jing Mei had a strained relationship with her mother before her death and still does not know the full story as to how her half sisters were abandoned or why.

I believe that the initial train ride takes place during the day for a reason. It allows the author to show Jing Mei's father's responses to seeing his homeland after so many years away. He is visibly stirred by the places he remembers.

Day turns to night as they meet Jing Mei's extended family at the train station and then they move on to share stories at the hotel. Finally, late into the night, Jing Mei's father tells her the whole truth about how and why her mother abandoned her sisters on the side of the road so long ago. This use of night is symbolic of closure and Jing Mei is able to awaken the next morning in preparation for meeting her sisters for the first time as a newly awakened woman, with new knowledge of her mother's past to fortify her for the meeting to come.

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