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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 the Vietnamese culture. The toneĀ 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, even though you see the love he feels for her. His love contradicts the disdain he has for her gender. He tells her that she cannot accomplish what she wants because she is a woman. The first time he says, “Not possible,” she knows he is wrong but feels powerless to make him proud.

The voice of her grandfather stays with her, even after he dies, through Mr. Green, his parrot. The parrot tells the narrator that it is “not possible.” It is only in the final moments of the story that the granddaughter regains her power by killing Mr. Green, a task she didn’t want to do but knows how to do because “a Vietnamese woman is experienced in these things.” Through her Christian beliefs, she can finally let go of the teachings of her grandfather. 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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