Everything I Never Told You Character Analysis

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Who Was Lydia?
Celeste Ng, author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, explores the dynamics of a family sodden with racial limitations, burdened with expectations, and plagued with an urge to belong. Ng, throughout the novel, seems to view the concept of being an “other” in society as a negative but necessary aspect of life and that is seemingly reflected with the Lees family.

What sets the Lees apart from others is that they are a racially-diverse family and each member of the family is alienated by each other and society. Lydia and Nath both face the brunt of discriminatory harassment with their peers and their community. Overall, the entire family is subjected to this sort of treatment and it causes considerable tension within
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society as something that the alienated have found acceptance or alienation, from or within. For example, a reoccurring symbol/image is the lake and swimming. Towards the beginning, Lydia is found dead in the lake and in the end, Nath is also in the lake except he is able to swim to the surface. The lake is supposed to symbolize the Lees coming full-circle, and how the lake was once a false sense of acceptance, but in the end, became a symbol for true acceptance. What represents alienation for the Lees is their racial diversity. Moreover, what represents alienation for Lydia, specifically, is the lack of connection she has with anyone and her inability to vocalize her feelings. What represents acceptance for the Lees varies with each member. James and Marilyn find acceptance with each other, for they are both different from their society, with James being Chinese-American and Lydia wanting to pursue a higher career. For Nath, seeing his sister Hannah, and being able for a brief time, understand what Lydia must’ve felt, is the point where Nath finds his acceptance and realizes he has Hannah and his family to live for. Celeste Ng provides “avenues of escape” for people by identifying and writing a story that most appeals to the masses of family that are racially diverse and the struggles individuals and families face because of these differences in society. Each member of the Lees have unique struggles that many people can
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