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Relic

In Butler’s “Relic,” the narrator is a man who struggles to find an identity in a country that is foreign to, and cherished by him.  When reading, I found it difficult to relate to this man simply because of his inherent lack of emotion.  When he mentions his family being back in Vietnam is when I felt this the most.  This man left his home country in which he was decently well off because he wanted a new life, which is understandable. However, leaving your family in the hopes of finding wealth, without a care for how they may end up, seems tragic to me.  He wishes to have an article of his wife, preferably a scarf, instead of actually seeing her for himself.  He describes her as a simple woman because she wishes to stay in her home land with her family. I do not find this simple, I find it normal.  I think the narrator in the piece not only struggles with identity, but he struggles with finding a meaning to life itself.  He is happy with the wealth he has gained, and a shoe of a man who is no longer living.  These are materialistic notions, which perhaps he interprets as being American in nature.  In truth, he is looking only at the outside of what it means to be American.  He sees the big picture: a big house with a hefty bank account and objects that are supposed to elicit happiness, but in reality it is how we come across these objects and how we use them that truly produces happiness in us.  By finding another John Lennon shoe, he will lose himself completely by literally walking around as someone else, someone he idealizes.  This story attempts to define what it may mean to be American to a foreigner, and the hardship that is to come from attempting to change yourself to fit in.  The point it, being American is about being different.  It is about combining different cultures into one, and creating a new one. If he would accept his identity as a Vietnam man, and embrace his culture in his new land, he would not need the left foot of the new shoe at all: because he would finally wear his own.

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