In the Land of the Free

by Edith Maude Eaton

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How does dialogue reveal Hom Hing's personality in "In the Land of the Free"?

Expert Answers

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In Sui Sin Far’s short story “In the Land of the Free,” dialogue is used to reveal the traits of Hom Hing’s personality in a number of ways, including the following:

  • Hom Hing seems happy and proud when he first discusses his newly arrived son with the immigration officers.
  • He seems self-controlled but frustrated when he replies to the officers who question his right to bring his son into the United States.
  • He seems determined when he responds to the officers who tell him that his son cannot be admitted to the U. S.
  • He seems sensitive and poetic when he tells the officers about first learning that his wife was pregnant.
  • He seems confidently authoritative when he discusses how his wife obeyed his orders.
  • He seems resigned when he finally explains to his wife that they must leave the boy with the officers for a while:

“'Tis the law, . . . and 'twill be but for a little while – until tomorrow’s sun rises.”

  • He seems considerate and compassionate when he comforts his wife after their first night home together.
  • He seems resigned to further delays when he first talks with the lawyer.
  • He seems concerned for his wife’s health when he tells the lawyer that she may soon die.
  • He seems hopeful when the lawyer first discusses a possible solution but then seems frustrated when he learns what the proposal is and how much it will cost.

In short, in this story, Hom Hing runs a gamut of emotions as the circumstances of the plot change and develop. He is the story’s most dynamic character, emotionally, and most of his emotions are revealed through his dialogue with other characters.

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