The relationship of Grace and Suzy is one that is difficult to pin down because although it appears to be one of dysfunction and hate, I see it as one of pure love and sacrifice. According to Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary a sister is “a female human being having the same parents as another person.” To me, a sister is so much more than that cold definition of lineage. Maybe it’s because I have sister and therefore understand the intricate relationship that lies between two sisters. The relationship is one of jealousy, envy, pure love, learning, laughing, and competition.
In The Interpreter by Suki Kim, the relationship between Suzy and Grace is more complicated than the author leads us to believe. I agree, from the first reading, I felt every cold shoulder, petty comment, and longing to be accepted. However, after much thought, I believe a deeper meaning can be read into every action and word exchange between the two sisters. I don’t think Grace was the “evil” older sister and treated Suzy poorly their entire lives. I have found in Grace’s actions a full and undying love of her sister that provokes her every action. Grace, being the older sister, was trying to protect and shelter Suzy from cold and harsh reality their family lived in. Grace took on all of the problems from knowing the truth of her father’s actions and never letting anyone else know. This is a lot to ask of a young girl who already faces many issues such as finding a cultural identity, moving schools every year, and finding true friends. Grace has good intentions by taking these problems onto herself and not sharing with Suzy, but it backfires some what. Grace ends up jealous of Suzy for being naive about family issues. Grace has created a vicious circle of catch 22. Grace feels like she shouldn’t share the grief with her younger sister, and yet because Suzy is unaware of these issues Grace envies her. Due to the Korean culture their parents foster, the responsibility is put on the elder daughter’s shoulders. Grace might have secretly wanted to share this responsibility with Suzy but couldn’t because it weight was hers to bear alone. Likewise, Suzy might have wanted to help Grace with translating for her parents, but wasn’t allowed to therefore causing a bigger divide.
Grace’s life motto should be, “The path to hell is lined with good intentions.” Grace ends up suffering alone in her own personal hell because of the sacrifice she makes in order for Suzy to be left youthful and untouched by all of the problems their parents, especially their father, create. This silent, strong relationship can be summed up by quote from Grace that is repeated several times throughout the novel, “One day, if you find yourself alone, will you remember that I am too” (260)? It takes the entire book for Suzy to finally understand and come to realize what Grace meant by these words. At the end, it is brought to light that Grace has been silently suffering all of these years due to her full understanding of what her father had been doing for years to other immigrants. Therefore Grace felt “alone” in her world and therefore excluded others including Suzy. One last cry of help can be heard in this line from Grace, although it was meant never to be understood until the end when all was revealed.