Conversations with My Parents by Oanh Thi Tran
In Conversations with My Parents by Oanh Thi Tran we have the theme of connection, family, loyalty, respect and, love. Narrated in the first person by Thi Tran herself the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Thi Tran may be exploring the theme of connection and family. While in the hospital with her father Thi Tran learns of her father’s life when he was younger and lived in Vietnam. This may be important as Thi Tran appears to be a willing listener even if she has to study for her law exams. What is also interesting about Thi Tran visiting her father is the fact that she stays with him until she is asked to leave. Long after visiting hours are over. This suggests that Thi Tran has a genuine interest in her father’s life and how he might have previously lived. She is not just doing something she has been told to do.
If anything there is a sense that Thi Tran loves her father and mother. She may not necessarily be able to verbalize this as easy as she would like but she is completely connected to her parents. She has not necessarily being overwhelmed by life in Australia and accepts her parents for who they are and more importantly appreciates them. Though again she finds it difficult to verbalize this. Why this happens is not certain. One would expect that it is easy to tell someone you love them but there appears to be stumbling blocks in Thi Tran’s case. She simply cannot tell her parents that she loves them even though she does. Which may be the point that Thi Tran is attempting to make. She may be suggesting that at times the simplest things, like telling somebody you love them, are in fact that most difficult things to do.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The fact that Thi Tran is studying law suggests that she is going places. She may have been the first of her family to go to college and is aware of the importance of this. She is due to live a successful life abroad and advance the family name. She knows her father had a limited education and that circumstances in Vietnam meant he may not have been able to go to college himself. The fact that Thi Tran rings her parents every three weeks as requested by her father could suggest that Thi Tran is loyal and respectful to her parents.
The end of the story is interesting as Thi Tran continues to struggle when it comes to telling her parents that she loves them. Again no reason is given but through her actions of calling her parents regularly it becomes clear to the reader that Thi Tran loves her parents. If she did not she would have abandoned them when she moved to England. Instead she remains in touch with them, regularly. It may also be a case that due to Thi Tran being a lawyer she does not like to feel as she thinks. She cannot get emotionally involved regardless of who the people are. It is her job to be clear and concise and love can sometimes throw a spanner in the works. Although the reader also knows that Thi Tran’s parents know she loves them.