Silence In Catherine Chung's Forgotten Country

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All throughout Catherine Chung’s novel Forgotten Country, people choose not to let their feelings be known. Sometimes people want to forget the past and they think that their memories are too painful for them to be worth remembering. However, if one is silent about their feelings, it only makes them harder to be understood. When people cannot understand each other, they grow further apart due to misunderstanding and emotional distance. Silence can even tear apart families. During the story, Hannah and her mother suffer from the effects of silence. Hannah’s relationship with her parents is a strained one at best, and it all goes back to ignorance of her parents past. Hannah feels like her parents don’t truly love her, and these feelings go back all the way to the time they spent in Korea during her early childhood. The family used to visit the burial mound of Hannah’s aunt. One time, Hannah excitedly called out to her aunt on one of the visits, and in response her mother “knelt and slapped her in the face” (Chung 7). To rub salt in, Hannah was no longer allowed near the grave. To Hannah, this was her mother reprimanding her for simply being excited. Hannah couldn’t understand why her mother would resort to such cruelty…show more content…
Maybe she was worried what she’d do with the information. Maybe the memory of what happened to Hannah’s aunt was to painful to bring up. Regardless of the reason, the effect of her inaction remains the same. Between Hannah and her mother was a gap of information crucial to understanding the mother’s feelings for her daughter. Because she didn’t fill that gap, an even wider emotional gap grew between them. It’s unlikely that this alone caused Hannah to grow distant from her mother, but letting Hannah know just how much she cared about her, even if it was painful, could’ve helped the mother hold onto Hannah. Instead, she stayed
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