Tourism by Benjamin Law
In Tourism by Benjamin Law we have the theme of consumerism, family, separation, tradition, independence, commitment and connection. Taken from his The Family Law collection the story is narrated in the first person by Law himself and is a memory piece with Law recalling his teen years. It is also clear to the reader that Law may be exploring the theme of consumerism. Law feels as though Asian people like to spend their money on wasteful things. Things that have no real significance. Things like theme park t-shirts and fridge magnets. It may also be important that Law’s mother is one of these people who likes to buy things in theme parks. If anything Law might be suggesting that how his mother acts, as a tourist, is traditional to Chinese people. In reality Law is suggesting that Asian people like buying junk.
The theme of family and separation is also evident in the story. Despite being divorced Law’s parents remain close. Something that slightly bothers Law and he cannot see how they can be happy with his mother tagging along on the weekends Law and their siblings spend with their father. It may also be significant that Law deliberately emphasizes an Australian accent when he is at the theme parks. He considers himself to be Australian rather than Chinese-Australian. If anything he wants to dissociate himself from the Asian tourists that he considers to be ridiculous. Though they do mirror Law’s mother in their appearance. If anything Law is attempting to westernize himself and forgo his cultural heritage. However his family do celebrate Chinese festivities. Possibly due to the fact that his parents are both still alive. Without them it is uncertain as to how Law might celebrate events.
There may be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The theme parks can be seen to represent consumerism and the westernization of Law Through his parents’ influence. The emu might represent tradition in some way and Law’s removal of the emu from the car might suggest a removal from Law’s heritage as a person of Chinese extract. The fact that Law’s father cannot attend the festivities with Law and the rest of his family due to work commitments might also be important as it is possible that Law’s father is hard-working. Despite being a single man he honours both his duties as an employee and a father. The Chinese women who gossip about Law’s parents’ separation play a significant role in the story as the women could be suggesting that the traditional role of Law’s parents is not being carried out. A traditional nuclear family is important to the women.
The end of the story is interesting as Law appears to be exploring connection. A family connection that will be the last time all the Law’s family will be together for a long time. Even though Law’s father is working and cannot make it. Nonetheless every other family member will be there. This again is important as it really suggests the significance of family, even if Law does not follow Chinese tradition fully. Family and the differences between Law and his parents does not hold Law back from loving his family. Even if he considers his mother to be somewhat of a tourist.