The three characters I will compare and analysis include; Lindo Jong (from the short story Red Candle by Amy Tan), Mary Maloney (from the short story Lamb to the Slaughter by Roald Dahl) and An-Mei Hsu (from the short story Scar and Magpies by Amy Tan). I will be focusing on how these characters react towards their situations of confinement, which they face with different ways. They also face a dilemma and use their own methods solve their problems. The married Mary Maloney; she is a pregnant housewife whom daily waits patiently, her husband’s arrival home from work.
Her isolation and devotion for her husband seems at vain when her husband declares that he wants a divorce. At this point Mary turns to anger, jealousy and revenge by murdering him. She understands that if she was caught, it could lead to her death and perhaps her unborn child. Mary turns to deceit and covers up any possibility to find her guilty. At Lindo’s side of the story, she goes through the terrible experience of being isolated from her family when they leave her with the signed marriage. Living with the Huang family for many years, she bears loathe of being separated from her family, ordered around by the Huangs and to live with her despised marriage. One day she decided to escape her marriage as well as sticking to her committed promise to her family.
By using her gathered knowledge of those around her; she cunningly devises a plan to escape her marriage and win her freedom. In the story Scar, it tells of An-Mei’s life and how she experiences being hidden from her mother or rather being told the truth. I take this into account as An-Mei being confined from her mother’s presence in her childhood. However, once her Popo had passed away; she decided to stay with her mother and to lead a different life that her Popo, uncle and auntie have all despised of. In An-Mei’s second story, Magpies, it tells of how An-Mei lives with her mother in Wu Tsing’s house. In the end, An-Mei learns of the truth of her mother and her suffering and takes her mother’s sacrifice to lead on her own life with more quality as her mother had wished to happen.
Mary is faced with separation from her husband for hours daily. She patiently waits everyday for her husband to come home from work, looking forward to his company. This form of confinement is accepted by Mary, who loves her husband and intends to have a family. Her marriage to her husband and her pregnancy sacrifices a portion of her freedom. However, her only reaction to this is none but giving in to this confinement as a forfeit for love for her husband: “For her, this was always a blissful time of the day”, “She loved to luxuriate in the presence of this man”.
One could say that her confinement was a sacrifice for love. An-Mei lived in a childhood where all sense of her mother had left her. Her forgotten memory of her mother was due to the ignoring held by Popo and the family that banished An-Mei’s mother. She grew to know almost nothing of her mother. However, she never felt such hatred towards her own mother as the rest of her family did: “And I would stare at my mother. She did not look evil. I wanted to touch her face, the one that looked like mine”
However, no matter how much An-Mei liked her mother she was far too young and Popo and the rest of the family were too opposed towards letting An-Mei stay with her mother. An-Mei’s Popo always told her that her mother was worthless and shameful. An-Mei began to come to think of her mother as they did: “imagine my mother, a thoughtless woman who laughed and shook her head” However, when An-Mei saw her mother again at the mourning of her Popo, An-Mei felt love for her: “yet I cam to love this mother as well”.
Although we can assume that An-Mei wanted to be with her mother, their separation and confinement from each other was cast upon them. However, in Amy Tan’s second short story of An-Mei, Magpies, An-mei had also another part of her freedom taken away from her. She had no choice but to stay in the house of Wu Tsing with her mother. Similar to Mary however, An-mei was content. With the luxuries provided by Wu Tsing and to stay with her beloved mother, An-mei was satisfied with her life:
If I look upon my whole life, I cannot think of another time when I felt more comfortable: when I had no worries” Throughout all the years Lindo had stayed with the Huangs, she had always been stuck in her dilemma of hating to serve them, to have no freedom and to feel the creeping dread of to have to marry Tyan-Yu one day: “After a while, I hurt so much I didn’t feel any difference”, “I stayed up all night crying about my marriage”.
However, since Lindo was true to her promise, she obediently served the Huangs indisputably: “But I was so determined to honor my parents’ words, so Huang Taitai could never accuse my mother of losing face.” Similar to Mary, Lindo had sacrificed her freedom for something that held significance to her, in Lindo’s case it was her promise. However, An-Mei’s situation of separation was forced upon her unlike the other two characters. In contrast to Lindo, Mary and An-mei both had a content life.