instructions: Choosing either the prompt provided, or an interpretation of your own devising (must emerge from the passage below), use close-reading techniques to substantiate the claim you make. Pull evidence only from the passage provided. Refer to the Close Reading Guide and Sample Close Reading for additional guidance. Refer to the Close Reading Rubric on gauchospace for more details regarding grading criteria.
(approx. 300 words)
passage: from “The Brown House,” p. 45
Mr. Hattori was resolute in refusing to burn the money, and Mrs. Hattori eventually adjusted herself to his keeping it. Thus, they increased their property by a new car, a new rug, and their first washing machine. Since these purchases were all made on the convenient installment plan and the two thousand dollars somehow melted away before they were aware of it, the car and the washing machine were claimed by a collection agency after a few months. The rug remained, however, as it was a fairly cheap one and had already eroded away in spots to show the bare weave beneath. By that time it had become an old habit for Mrs. Hattori and the boys to wait outside the brown house in their original car and for Joe to be commissioned periodically to go to the front door to ask for his father. Joe and his brothers did not mind the long experience too much because they had acquired a taste for Chinese cookies. Nor, really, did Mrs. Hattori, who was pregnant again. After a fashion, she became quite attached to Mrs. Wu who, on her part, decided she had never before encountered a woman with such bleak eyes.
Yamamoto’s narrative style is distinctive for its euphemistic quality. Her tone and diction remain subdued even, often, in contrast to the explosive, violent, or tragic nature of the events being narrated. How is that subdued narrative voice used in the above passage? How does its quiet irony serve to introduce a subtle commentary on the nature of Mrs. Hattori’s “eventual adjustment”?
Pay particular attention to word choice used to describe characters’ feelings and preferences; consider alternative word choices that might have been less euphemistic or ambivalent, more definitive. Who are the subjects, and who or what the subjects/objects, of these feelings? Is there a tension between the “bleak” interiority and casual language of the paragraph?
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