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“Yesterday he had said, “Not possible,” but today he said nothing.” (116)

In this story, Robert Olen Butler explores the role of patriarchy in religion, and more specifically, in Vietnamese culture. The tone is not accusatory or satirical, but a matter-of-fact manner that critiques how the grandfather speaks to his granddaughter. The grandfather approaches his granddaughter without respect, and although you see the love he feels for her. But his love is mixed with disdain of her gender. He tells her that she cannot accomplish what she wants to because she is a woman. The first time he says, “Not possible,” she cries out and feels powerless.

The voice of her grandfather stays with her, even after he dies. Through Mr. Green, his parrot, he still manages to tell his granddaughter that it is “not possible.” It is only in the final moment of the story that the granddaughter regains her power as a woman in killing Mr. Green, a task she didn’t want to do but had to because, as she suggests,”a Vietnamese woman is experienced in these things.” She manages to let go of the religious teachings of Confucius and finds strength through the women in the Bible. In the end, the love that she feels for her grandfather and even Mr. Green doesn’t matter, because what matters most is the strength she has within herself.


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