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The Old Man Isn't There Essay

825 words - 4 pages

Everyone has had an embarrassing moment in their life at one point or another; slipping on ice in public or forgetting a coworkers name at the company picnic. Making a fool of yourself is bound to happen, especially in a setting outside of what you are accustomed to. Some people do not like reliving these moments while others have a gift for turning their embarrassment into a great story. Kellie Schmitt’s essay “The Old Man Isn’t There Anymore” is a perfect example of laughing at oneself. Throughout a cluster of Chinese do’s and do not’s, Schmitt tells the reader of one specific event and its comical conclusion. The essay is fun to read and relate to. Laughing with the author is made easy ...view middle of the document...

(Schmitt 125). After being told that “The old man isn’t there anymore” (Schmitt 125) it is assumed that it was the buzz cut gentleman she had awkward exchanges with previously. This portion of the essay just exudes typical American behavior; nosey neighbor who wants so badly to be liked. For example, she decides to buy flowers which are the wrong color and winds up being invited to a funeral; only digging her hole deeper.
Throughout the essay there are some great descriptions of the Chinese culture and traditions when dealing with grief. From the white flowers and clothing; which is most certainly different from American funerals, to the saxophones and black fabric swatches for family and friends. While a speech is given by a relative of the deceased, the earlier mentioned language barrier was made even more evident. Furthermore, Schmitt tells of the symbolic nature of the occasion. Leaping away from the fire pit while exiting the funeral is “to help the deceased transcend the gap between life and death” (Schmitt 128). Lastly the attendees enjoyed a sweet beverage “a symbol of heavenly bliss” (Schmitt, 129) All of these examples are very detailed throughout the essay, allowing an essay visual for a reader who has never been to such an event.
With every ritual the author begins to blend a bit more and connect with...

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