A Song For A Barbarian Reed Pipe Rhetorical Analysis

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Kingston’s story “A Song for a Barbarian Reed Pipe” employs numerous fantasy elements in depicting her separation from the restrictiveness of China and further, her discovery of harmony between her ancient family’s culture and her new American one. Navigating through confusion and anger, Kingston is ultimately able to remove herself her Chinese bindings and find a sense of accord between her past and her future. Kingston’s rhetoric conveys her struggle with the complexities of her Chinese culture and her inability to come to a core truth. Furthermore, she gravitates toward American culture for its simplicity. Kingston is having difficulties sorting fact from fiction in her mother’s story about Moon Orchid’s encounter with her husband. She…show more content…
As she is able to separate, she looks back at her culture fondly rather than with anger. The last talk-story Kingston adds to her memoir is a collaboration of China and America, old and new. She leads into the story with, “The beginning is hers her mother’s, the ending mine Kingston” (206). Kingston acknowledges that while she may still be strongly influenced by her mother and her Chinese culture, she is in the process of breaking away to create a personal identity. This is the first time that Kingston explicitly tells which additions to the story are her own. Not only is she referencing the story at hand, but she is also alluding to her life. While her mother very much colored her childhood, Kingston will be dictating the direction of the rest of her life. Kingston tells the story of Ts’ai Yen, a poetess captured and made to live with barbarians. Towards the end of the tale, Kingston tells of a song Ts’ai Yen sings: “Her words seemed to be Chinese, but the barbarians understood their sadness and anger…her children did not laugh, but eventually sang along” (209). In the scene, Kingston alludes to a conversation that goes beyond understand or interpretation and transcends to a state of peace between the two cultures, barbarian and native. Without even knowing the language or the culture, the barbarians understand the truth of the words. Music is a universal expression that unites. Although the children, representing Americanized Chinese, are rather separated from their mother’s culture, they still find a tune they can relate to. There is no mocking or animosity towards the Chinese culture, rather an understanding. Similarly, Kingston creates a new identity for herself as Chinese-American by coming to terms with her mother’s often-frustrating Chinese culture. She does not belittle the native’s culture or overly

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