The Third Dumpster Short Story Summary

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“The third dumpster” is a short story written by Gish Jen in 2013. “The third dumpster” tells a story of a relationship between two brothers and their parents. The brothers desperately tire to help their parents by renovating an old house in hope of the parents will live there by themselves, and not living with the brothers.
The short story deals with the relationship between the members of a Chinese-American family, consisting of a mother, a father and their two sons, Goodwin and Morehouse, called the Lee-family. The sons struggle to establish their parents in the American society. In order to do so, the sons buy an old house to their parents, so the parents don’t have to live with either of the sons. However, in the end, Goodwin feels the
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He asked. Fuck off, said Morehouse, walking in. How Goodwin wished he had said that! And how much he wished he had ended up like Morehouse instead of like Morehouse turned inside out.” (p. 6, ll. 164-167)
Another huge contrast in the short story is the contrast between the Chinese nationality and culture and the American nationality and culture. The American culture is expressed by Goodwin and Morehouse and the Chinese culture is expressed by the parents. The parents struggle to become a part of the American society alongside living by their Chinese culture. The brothers, on the other hand, is properly born in America and have thereby a better connection to the American culture. This contrast of the Chinese and the American is also showed by the style of writing in the short story.
The narrative technique that is used is a limited third narrator, seen from Goodwin’s point of view. Through the narrator the reader gets to hear what the different character is saying, therefore the sentences are affected by the character’s personality and thereby their accent. The short story is written so the contrast between the Chinses culture expressed by the parents and the American culture expressed by the brothers is shown through their language. The brother’s language is grammatically correct and perfectly
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Furthermore, the dumpster can be a metaphor of how things look on the outside with the reality of the inside. They are renovating the old house and the dumpster that they are using is brand-new.
“The house was a dog. […] They were therefore fixing it up for their parents.” (p. 2, ll. 3-6)
“The dumpster in front of it, by contrast, was fresh and empty, apparently brand-new” (p. 3, ll. 60-61)
So on the outside, both the house and the dumpster look decent and new, but however, on the inside both things are filled with garbage, such as struggles, disagreement, and actual trash.
The short story “The third dumpster” deals with the conflicts that can develop along with the composition of two different cultures, as seen in the Lee-family. In order to coexist the two cultures, the family is often placed in difficult situations, such as the family accidently dividing into two groups, in order to present both cultures. This is seen in the shape of the Lee-family. Goodwin and Morehouse represent the American culture as their parents represent their Chinese culture and thereby the family’s Chinese
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