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Abstract

“Monkey Hands” is an autobiographical short story that explores identity displacement in a multicultural setting. The story uses narrative, scene, and figurative language to describe the mother-daughter relationship with my mother, an Indonesian-born, Chinese immigrant. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida, a primarily Hispanic city, which made me question my mother’s Asian lifestyle. I compared my life with my peers, which challenged my ability to fit in with the societal and cultural environment that differed from my household. I focused on a traditional, Asian way of pineapple cutting because it reflects my mother’s persona: artistic, resourceful, precise. When I moved to Hawai‘i I noticed the parallels of my upbringing with my life on the island. Her way of expressing love was not with “I love you,” but with criticism. Later in my life I realized that her tough love was not indicative of how much she loved me, but how she loved me. My mother did not immerse me in the Chinese culture; she handed down an Asian-influenced skillset that she thought was lacking in the American lifestyle. She taught me how to utilize my hands and surroundings, invest time and knowledge into what I needed, and appreciate what this earth has to offer.

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