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Robert Olen Butler’s “Mid-Autumn” features a Vietnamese woman speaking to her unborn child about their heritage and the heartache that came along with losing the love of her life, Bao. The narrative is told differently in contrast to other stories as the narrator takes on the voice of a woman. As opposed to his conventionally tough characters, such as the narrator in “Love” who exerts a lot of his energy into controlling his wife, the narrator in “Mid-Autumn” aspires to give her unborn child choices concerning marriage. Although she experienced loss, she remarries and tells her unborn child that her loss was great but led to her discovery of the world remaining good, even after tragedy.

My favorite line in this story is when the narrator says,

It is sad that there is no return, but we can still light a lantern and look into the night sky and remember.”

That is the moment that brings readers back to her culture as a Vietnamese woman and the poetry that had been passed down from generation to generation. I loved the intricate detail of this story and how lyrical the descriptions were, the eloquence contributing to the development of character (e.g. how delicate of an individual she is).

I would have liked to hear more about her husband, but it could be possible that Butler purposely avoided going into detail to demonstrate the emotional drift between her feelings concerning Bao and her feelings concerning her life without him. If that is the case, I wonder why she speaks about how good of a man her husband is. She repeats herself twice about her husband being a good man, suggesting that she’s also trying to convince herself of his goodness, so is she really happy?

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