Sunday, April 1, 2007

Whose Side Is She On?

Coming from the 1.5 Generation, Suzy Park is faced with many cultural obstacles. One of which is defining where her morality should lie. It can be seen that the parallels between the Korean aspect of community and Westernized greed was structured by her father. He enforced strict rules (no boys, no make-up, practice the Korean language), yet he was labeled as a traitor, and committed vicious acts of reporting his immigrant brethren to the INS for a passage towards his own citizenship. This predicament Suzy’s father puts her in is one that replicates itself throughout the book. Over the course of her quest for closure on her parents’ murder, Suzy becomes more and more aware of the idea that her family wasn’t exactly “good guys” among the Korean community. But were they good guys comparable to the American way of life? This question of morality has numerous faces considering the differences of culture Suzy is confronted with.
As an interpreter for a court room, it is Suzy’s responsibility to relay information directly from Korean to English. As a member of the Korean community however, she feels as if she has an obligation to represent the individual in a moral sense being that they share the common bond of being foreigners in a complicated country. Had she represented each of the Koreans she was assigned to on completely literal terms, conflict would have risen being that a language barrier is in effect. This sense of ethics shows up early in the text when she is translating for Mr. Lee to the assistant District Attorney. She will cleverly add to the ADA’s questions and comments so that Mr. Lee will have a better understanding of the situation. I see this being done out of an act of sympathy for Mr. Lee’s unawareness of the severity of the circumstances. Suzy knows that the people she is translating for are not to be treated with any less respect than she would expect a white man to be treated with. She breaks the rules while translating because these Koreans deserve the respect they wouldn’t be getting should she mechanically interpret their dialog word for word.

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