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disrupting calm 14

May 1, 2017

Several times in the opening scenes of the novel, Stephen apologizes  for disrupting the calm.  He uses those very words to describe his swimming in the ocean (14).  Later he describes his charcoal drawing as “interrupting the whiteness of the sheet” (16).  Soon after having met Matsu for the first time, he he feels sure that he “disturbing his [Matsu’s] tranquil world” (9).  What do these and other such moments reveal about Stephen’s character?  Why does he feel this way about his interactions in this new place?  What’s at work when he sees himself in this way?


From → SG, Autumn 1937

  1. Emma Forrestal permalink

    I think this reveals Stephen to be very self-conscience and unsure about himself. He is a young man that has diverged very far from the path set for him. He should be at school, away from home, studying so that he can find a good job for himself. In reality, Stephen is very sick and he has to stay home with his family until he can get well again. I think Stephen feels completely helpless and as if he is an imposition to his family and those around him. Stephen thinks he is disturbing the peaceful lives of his family and Matsu by needing so much help and care.

  2. Brett Adams permalink

    This reveals that Stephen feels very uncomfortable and out of place with his surroundings. He feels that he interrupts what every one else is doing and gets in the way of people. He does not want to have to rely on his family and Matsu in order to try and get healthy from his sickness. What is at work here is that Stephen wants to be back in his home town where there was no tranquility or peace. He feels as though he is ruining a place that was very peaceful by being there and by being a burden to other people.

  3. I think these instances show Stephen to be a very nervous person, or the type of person to always feel as if they are bothering those around them. Although these could be situational traits because he is in a new place and could feel uncomfortable. He probably feels this way because the only memories he has of this beach house were memories where he was surrounded by his family, and now he is being isolated from the ones he loves due to his illness. That thought alone could bring a sense of uneasiness to Stephen. Also, this new place is totally different than Hong Kong where it was always busy. I think what’s at work when he sees himself this way is his conscious being aware and telling him he is in a place that makes him uncomfortable.

  4. Emma Leonard permalink

    I think this shows how much Stephen values organization and calm. When he disrupts the water, he feels as if he is interrupting something tranquil, and causing a commotion. When he draws on the canvas, he is disrupting the simplicity of the white canvas with his black charcoal. When Stephen sees himself this way, he patronizes himself even further because of his illness. He thinks that because he is sick he has no use in the world, and whenever he does something bad, he has ruined it. I also think that he thinks he is a disruption because he is used to living in Hong Kong, where it is very loud and busy, so he’s used to being loud. However, in Tarumi it is much quieter and more peaceful, so he feels awkward transitioning from a city of such chaos to a city of such serenity.

  5. Brittany Hickman permalink

    I feel that these scenes show that Stephen is a selfless person. He is always apologizing disrupting something that maybe the readers can see; it is not a thing that people would ever really pay attention to. I think he also feels out of place in this city he hasn’t visited since he was a child. He is sent away from the world where he is most comfortable, introduced to an environment that knows little of him and he knows little of it so he feels as if he is disturbing it in some way. I think he thinks about it as interfering with someone’s personal territory, or their space. This shows that he does not want any conflict with anything or anyone and is a very caring person.

  6. Asher Spivey permalink

    I think that this reveals that Stephen does not want any trouble, he does not want to do anything wrong either. This also reveals that Stephen cares about others before he cares about himself. I believe that Stephen feels this way because he does not want to do anything wrong and he does not want to be blamed for anything. It is very relatable to Sachi and how she would not come of out of the house because she did not want to dishonor anyone. When Stephen sees himself in this way if something were to happen he would blame himself and punish himself even though it may be someone else’s fault. Sachi and Stephen are very related and very similar personalities.

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