In class, on Tuesday, we began to discuss the novel, The Interpreter. Among the topics we touched on, from taboo relationships to the abrupt ending, the discussion on the character Grace caught my interest. Grace, as we all know now, is the main character Suzy’s sister. What we briefly discussed about her was why the author chose Suzy to be the protagonist and not Grace. Throughout the novel, the latter appears to be the more interesting sister, what with her wild escapades with risqué men and involvement in her parents INS scandal. Not to mention, the mystery, though about the parents murder, comes to focus more on Grace instead. The opposing opinions in class were that Grace should have been the main character because her story was more interesting than Suzy’s and that the book was fine focusing on Suzy because it gave a deeper, more subtle reading of the situation. In any case, I thought it might be interesting to rewrite part of a chapter of the book with Grace as the protagonist instead.
Ch. 4, pg 30-31 (italics are direct quotes from text)
The voice on the other end chimes, “Silver Shears Floral Shop, my name is Connie, how may I help you?” Grace stands by her desk, still in the modest blouse, long skirt and black pumps she wore to work. “I’d like to order a bouquet of white irises, to be sent to Suzy Park – S-U-Z-Y. She’s on St. Mark’s Place – I think you have the address in your records.”
“Yes, ma’am, we do. Would you like to include a message or card?”
“Thank you for your order, ma’am. Anything else today?”
“No, that’s it.”
“Have a nice day then.”
“Thanks, you too.”
She hangs up the phone and looks at the Day-Planner open before her. Every November since her parents’ death she has sent the irises to Suzy. Anonymously. No sender’s name, nothing. No note, no miniature card with a happy smile, no heart-shaped balloon with double I-love-you’s. Simply a bunch of white irises, a rarity in November, but only in November, always in November. She wonders what Suzy thinks of them; whether she keeps them until the last petal wilts to a crinkled, light-brown mass, or if she just throws them away as soon as she can. She knows that irises will remind Suzy of Mom. Mom had liked them, Grace recalls. Mom said that, among all garden flowers, irises needed the most care, because they withered quickly and had virtually no smell. Her mother was not one of those frivolous women who fell head over heels over the rich colors of long-stemmed roses or tulips, and neither was Grace. In spite of all the wasted flowers Johnny sends, she still thinks that they ought to be left where they can grow, whether in the perennial fields of the Netherlands or in a vacant lot in Queens. Flowers do not belong choked in a vase, drowning in water filled with life-sustaining chemicals; sent to appease her on some Hallmark-copyrighted American holiday, with the purpose so obvious that the sappy love note is rendered completely pointless. The only time that such an excess of flora may have served a valid purpose was at her parents’ funeral. Grace had arranged it. The cascading garlands and sprays of lilies and chrysanthemums, all in white. Even then, the flowers were only fulfilling their assigned purpose. Even in their death, she felt the need to rebel against them. Him in particular. Everyone thought that the flowers were appropriate. But Grace knew that they were the last things that her parents would have wanted at their final moment.