Shanghai Girls

by Lisa See

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What is the function of the juxtaposition between narrative tone and events in Lisa See's novel Shanghai Girls?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Lisa See's novel Shanghai Girls, there are two primary motivations for keeping Pearl's narration level throughout the story. 

The first purpose served by Pearl's narration is that it creates a fairly reliable narrator for the novel. As readers, we don't spend any time questioning whether the events in the story actually happened, because we find the narrator to be reliable and trustworthy. We can also trust that the narrator is not exaggerating events to make them seem better worse than they actually are. Pearl's calm narration is a literary choice that allows the story to be believable, and expels the possibility that Pearl is making up or embellishing any parts of the plot. Even though it is a first person account, the tale still has credibility because the reader is led to believe that the narrator is telling the truth.

Secondly, the narration is an extension of the character Pearl. From what we know of Pearl, she is a reliable, loyal, and responsible person. The way Pearl narrates is consistent with the way her character is developed as a practical and responsible person. By nature, a first person narrator cannot present all of the facts, but the steady manner in which Pearl presents the information draws the reader to believe what she is saying.  Perhaps the story would be more erratic and less believable if a more whimsical character were the narrator. See, however, has crafted a narrative tone that matches the character who is providing it.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial