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There are many literary means, available to an author, which offer insight into a realm, which is unknown to the target audience. For an author, deciding the vehicle of expression and description is perhaps the most significant factor in the success of a literary work. Narrating allows a writer to provide personal account and persuade the reader without the use of outside facts or incidence. In “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian,” Sui Sin Far utilizes the technique of first person narrative, in the form of flashbacks, in order to establish credibility and to invoke an emotional response from her readers. Truly, this decision offers support to the themes Far wishes to convey. By incorporating stories from her own personal experiences, Far appeals to the desire for individuality and personal identity, which we all harbor.
The first words written by Far display an imagery of looking back into her past at the moments that seem to dominate her memories. She begins the narrative with a vision of herself at the age of four. At this young age, Far remembers “the day on which [she] first learned that [she] was something different and apart from other children” (Sui Sin Far, 833). Even at this young age the word ‘“Chinese”’ (Far, 833) appears to have negative connotations, regardless of the true meaning. For the first time, but not for the last, Far has been made to see herself as less of a person than those who do not have Chinese in their blood lines. Young children are easily influenced and tend to be filled with an immense amount of curiosity. For Far, the idea of being Chinese meant nothing until her surroundings began to develop around her nationality alone.
Far manages to amplify emotions by illustrating them in a heightened sense. The use of childhood flashbacks allows the audience to experience the detrimental effects of racism and ignorance through the innocent and uniformed eyes of a young child. Adults have grown up in a cynical world and have been cultured in a society of inequality and injustice. If Far had chosen to speak of experiences of racial injustice suffered in her adult life, then the work would have far less emotional appeal on the audience.
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"A Narrative Structure The Eyes to Someone Elses Life." 123HelpMe.com. 07 Dec 2019
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Far finds dialect to be a useful aid in expression. She uses dialect amongst bystanders, who make fun of her ethnic background from the outside looking in; simultaneously, Far recreates dialect amongst the people in her family, who are on the inside looking out, to elaborate the main points of these individual events in her life. The dialect adds depth to the author’s words. For example, Far uses her own words on page 834, “The white blood in our veins fights valiantly for the Chinese half,” to effectively integrate herself within both cultures. Predeceasing these words is the evolution of unbiased stories. Far establishes herself as part of both cultures within this part of her narrative, allowing her readers to continue reading with an open mind and establishing credibility through the illustration of ethnic tolerance. She is able to tell her life events without belittling either half of her being; therefore, leaving the criticism and intolerance to the people in her life who the stories, she so vividly relives, are based upon.
Far also uses three asterisks, within the structure of her paper, in between complete thoughts in her narrative. When she finishes a point in her life and has effectively displayed the theme, she moves onto another point in her life that was influenced by the mixing of her father’s culture, English, and her mother’s culture, Chinese. This separation by the asterisks allows the reader to know precisely when a new event is being discussed rather than guessing when time changes.
The most critical aspect in capturing the audience is the authors ability to appeal to readers’ emotions. When reading, nothing holds our attention as well as a story told from personal experiences, with which we can sympathize or identify with in some regard. Through personal life experiences, Sui Sin Far informs her readers about the trials and tribulations a person, of Chinese and English nationalities, has to overcome in life.
Far discusses a severely volatile topic in “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian”. In order to eliminate the ignorance, which is often displayed by people when racism is discussed, Far separates a narrative literary piece into different memories: Experiences, which range from her formative years all the way up until her adult life. By utilizing the thoughts that reign in her mind the most vividly, she gives strength to her story. These memories are told in a chronological order and are separated with asterisks to impact the readers with a sense of severity based upon one woman’s life moments. These moments also strengthen the argument that Far makes at the end of this narrative compilation, “Individuality is more than nationality”.