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This story stood out to me much more than Butler’s other stories in the collection. I felt that it was much more warm and inviting, which is probably due to the more natural narration. The narrator has clearly picked up English and is able to use it fluently. The language still keeps the Vietnamese culture through references to stories of the Kindly Dragon or to meeting a warrior in heaven. In the beginning, the narrator is talking about Thuy’s ability to move like the sea. Here the language is very fluid, but it has such a lyrical discription that I would not typically associate with American English especially with the choice to use “flesh.”

“We both ran in the same surf, but somehow her flesh learned something there that mine did not. She could move like the sea, her body filled her clothes like the living sea, fluid and beckoning.”


One of Butler’s greatest successes in this story is the language. It feels very womanly. Many of his other stories were from the perspective of women, but I was often too distracted by the Vietnamese and English language barriers to notice how well he jumps into another gender. The narrator would wonder what Ly meant by certain phrases and watch where his eyes were looking. She was jealous of her friend’s life and body.

I admired this story most because Butler is jumping into another culture, another gender, and a situation that most people have very limited experience. It felt natural for the narrator to be preparing her friend’s dead body, for her to think about Thuy’s husband, and for her to want to look at Thuy’s breasts. I have known all semester that Butler’s stories are more heavily crafted than the other’s we have been reading but every story, I am still surprised at his ability to make the foreign realistic and natural.

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