Obasan and Poh-Poh Essay

Obasan and Poh-Poh Essay

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Oftentimes when reading fictional texts with similar themes, readers will find themselves encountering similar characters. In the realm of modern literature, elderly Asian women are often portrayed with many similarities; they are seen as protective, caring people who possess great wisdom. Ayako Nakane, also known as Obasan, the title character of Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, and the character Poh-Poh in Wayson Choy’s novel The Jade Peony, are very similar in this regard. Both Obasan and Poh-Poh drive forwards their respective narratives with their strong personalities. They have each suffered through troublesome pasts and as a result have become very wise. Obasan and Poh-Poh share many similarities but they also have their differences. Both women are very compassionate and do not hesitate to care for and protect their loved ones, however, the ways in which they interact with their loved ones are very different. Obasan is a very gentle and passive woman who takes on the role of a mother for the children in her care. Poh-Poh, on the other hand, is very forward and harsh, and acts as more of a guardian and mentor than a mother figure. While Kogawa’s Obasan and Choy’s Poh-Poh may seem very similar, they are in fact quite different.
In Kogawa’s novel, the title character Obasan can be described as having a forceful personality. She is not forceful in the sense that she imposes her will upon others, but rather she stands at the center of the narrative, making it all possible. Obasan is undoubtedly a quiet woman, so it is her actions rather than her words which make her presence so prevalent; she is more of an attitude than a person and she personifies the strength that can be found in silence. As a young woman, she is quiet. As an elderly wom...


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...respective narratives forwards with their strong character traits. They are both incredibly wise and selfless and have suffered through difficult histories. Obasan and Poh-Poh may seem very similar, but they are in fact quite different. While these women are very loving and unfaltering in the protection and care of their families, the ways in which they interact with their loved ones are very different. Obasan is a very mild and passive woman who takes on a maternal role when dealing with her niece and nephew. Poh-Poh, on the other hand, is very brazen and harsh, and is more of a guardian and mentor for her grandchildren. Both Kogawa and Choy have done a remarkable job of crafting two unique and awe-inspiring characters.



Works Cited


Choy, Wayson. The Jade Peony. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1995. Print.

Kogawa, Joy. Obasan. Toronto: Penguin, 1981. Print.

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