Waxen Wings Literary Analysis

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“Waxen Wings” Literary Analysis
All her life, Birdie experiences failure. However, the only thing that she takes away from the experience is success. So, whether this is a tragedy or not, Birdie only sees it as a chance to be triumphant. In Ha Songnan’s “Waxen Wings”, the character Birdie grows up wanting to fly and the ways that she attempts to achieve this goal shapes her into the person that she will become. Songnan uses a sequential structure in order to take the reader through the highs and lows of Birdies’ life. She also uses historical allusions and a sense of optimism and morbidity in order to reveal the theme that failure is a stepping stone to success.
In her younger years, Birdie has a seemingly impossible dream of flight. Songnan uses a sequential structure in order to bring the reader through Birdie’s journey to achieve this dream. Liminal time is most noticeable in the beginning and the end of the story, both of which take place in a hospital. In the first paragraph, Songnan herself writes, “The second hand fell off when the glass shattered... It was always 3:14” (163). A sense of nostalgia is introduced when Birdie looks out of the hospital window during this quote and sees her ten year old self. It is a moment of reflection. The
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Songnan states, “Teacher, I want to fly, but gravity keeps pulling me down.” (165) Gravity, in this story, is also a symbol for an obstacle that keeps her from achieving her goal. Songnan shows examples of historical allusions when she references past gymnasts such as Nadia Comaneci and Nellie Kim or movies such as Casablanca, Roman Holiday, or Charade. The title “Waxen Wings” is a Greek mythology allusion because it references the story of Icarus and when he flew his wings of wax too close to the sun. This ties into the story because Birdie got hurt when she tried to fly as
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