Take Me Away, Please by Lily Chan
In Take Me Away, Please by Lily Chan we have the theme of escape, conflict, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, tradition, culture and acceptance. Narrated in the first person by Chan herself the reader realizes from the beginning of the story that Chan may be exploring the theme of escape. Chan longs to do something other than helping her parents in their take away. She does not like working there. Though some critics might suggest that Chan is rebelling against her parents this is not the case. She simply doesn’t like working in the shop. Perhaps if she had a different job she would be happy. Chan’s sister is of a similar frame of mind and it might be important that her sister plays outside the shop when not working. This suggests, at least symbolically, that Chan’s sister would rather be somewhere else but like Chan is required to work in the shop.
If anything Chan is internally conflicted with the prejudice she encounters outside the shop acting as an external conflict. It must not have been easy growing up in Mareeba and being only one of two Chinese family’s in the area. This may be important as it suggests that Chan’s neighbours were not open to the fact that Chan and her family were Chinese. If anything Chan’s Australian neighbours might be considered to be narrow-minded and not open to diversity. It is not as though their town has been over-populated by Chinese people.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The food that Chan’s parents prepare might be seen to symbolize tradition. All the food is Chinese. The TV though only briefly mentioned plays a significant part in the story as it acts as a means of escape for Chan. The fact that Chan does her homework in the shop is important too as it represents Chan’s ability to interact between two societies, Chinese and Australian. She has adapted well to the fact that she is living in Australia. However there is no doubting, and as mentioned, that Chan would like to do something else with her life apart from working in the shop. The regulars who visit the shop and who are the bread and butter of the take away serve to represent the possibility that there are some who accept Chan and her family.
The end of the story is interesting as Chan appears to continue to explore the theme of tradition and acceptance. Firstly Chan follows all the Chinese holidays which suggests she comes from a traditional Chinese family. Her heritage and culture is not forgotten. Secondly despite not liking working in the shop Chan’s tone on the telephone suggests she accepts the position she finds herself in. Regardless of the fact that she longs to escape. The fact that Chan and her family catch up with her Chinese neighbours also suggests that culture is important to Chan and her family. Though they might only gossip about other Chinese families they still are in some way connected to their culture. Overall Chan has written a story in whereby she lays out the difficulties she incurred as a child growing up but rather than rebelling against her family. She embraces the difference and accepts the position she finds herself in.