Lost in Translation This Story Is a Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: Children
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #87611846

Excerpt from Essay :

Lost in Translation

This story is a typical immigrant success tale. It is a rich and an ambiguous story with the first section of the narrative representing, "Paradise," and revolves around Hoffman's childhood and adolescence in Cracow. The most prominent image in Eva Hoffman's mind during her family's immigration to Canada was the crowd gathered at the shore to see the ship off. She was thirteen years old and left Gdynia, Poland together with her father, mother, and younger sister. To her the crowd at the shore waving at them as the ship drifted away, was symbolic, it meant the end of everything she knew. Deep inside her there was sorrow and pain, she never wanted to leave Poland. As they journey on, her memory is filled with the loss she has suffered, Cracow a place she loved just as one would love a person. Her mind wonders around the sun baked villages, the pianos lessons. Unlike her nine-year-old sister who seems oblivious to the happenings, Hoffman is taken a back and is destroyed by the events. She however realizes the circumstances that motivated this move by her parents, this is clearly brought out as she reckons that the body search her parents underwent while boarding the Batory explains it all, they were Jews. It is apparent that Jews were not welcome and were subjected to ill treatment in Poland at that time. She further explains that her parents too loved Poland and left unwillingly. According to Hoffman, this journey marked the beginning of exile. She had no idea where they were going. She remembers a book her father had during the war, a book that gave hints of Canada as a wilderness where animal roamed freely a symbolic scenario in their quest for freedom. However, to her this was a sign of deprivation of her youth her best years.

This essay by Hoffman, also presents a "The New World" which outlines the difference between the two countries. She recounts how years later she met a lady who had an enchanted childhood, the part of life Hoffman regretted leaving behind, what she refers to as "paradise" (Hoffman 178) However, she comes back in a quick rejoinder to declare that what matters is what one makes paradise out of. This is in regard to her childhood as she recounts the situation back then. Here she reminisces the time the whole family slept in the same room yet felt as though she was in her own room. She recounts this period when she was only four and happy in Cracow, Poland, ironically a country recovering from the wounds of war. She remembers the hum of the tramway a few blocks away as she kept awake at night, sounds that filled her with contentment of her presence in Cracow, a place that was both home and the universe.

The Authors Meaning Behind the Essay

The authors aim in the essay is to express the experience of being caught between two worlds. The author brings out the fact that one's childhood is lived once but has a lasting effect. She seeks to understand how identity is affected by living in between two worlds. The author outlines the importance of culture and language in translating developmental issues. The author emerges in a new country and struggles to understand a new language in pursuit of identity. In a summary, the story is about the search for one's identity. It gives one an insight in the complex connection between identity, language and culture.

Insufficiency in Lost In Translation

In the story, Hoffman paints a good picture of Cracow, Poland as seen through the nostalgia of her childhood and adolescent mind. This memory lies on the perception of a child that is oblivious to the reality of the situation then and one that depends on the assumption of a state of plenitude. She remembers her conversation with the lady in New York many years later and in that conversation, she learns of the woman's childhood enchantment. Here, her memories fall prey of the woman's story as she regrets her past that was cut short by her family's migration. It is interesting to note that she talks of the importance of what paradise can be made out of in defense of the fond memories of Cracow, but fail to apply the same principle in the assimilation process in Canada. She remains unsympathetic to Canada and describes it as a blank, gray, and monolithic space.

Relevant Writings Addressing the Insufficiencies

On the other hand examining The Way to Rainy Mountain gives one a different opinion and most likely gives Hoffman credit for her writing. Despite being a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and critic, it is a wonder that Scott Momaday does bring out his feelings in detail and more so for a nostalgic writing. Eva Hoffman could be accused of using a child's memory as the basis of her story; Momaday on the contrary begins his story with a captivating description of the Rainy Mountain, one befitting a gifted writer, "Great green and yellow grasshoppers are everywhere in the tall grass, popping up like corn to sting the flesh" (Nomaday). However, he controls his emotions in the story an effort that limits the description of his grandmother from a child's eyes. He sounds more like a teacher than a child describing his beloved grandmother, he says, "the Kiowas were living the last great moment of their history" Therefore, Eva Hoffman does a good descriptive piece on her childhood memories of Cracow," I am filled to the brim with what I am about to lose…" "Images of Cracow, which I loved as one loves a person..." "… of the sun baked villages where we had taken our summer vacations" (Hoffman 178) at a time that the country was ravaged with war, she wants to remain while other are struggling to leave. To her Cracow represented a stage in life that she wanted to enjoy fully with all its familiarity. In the "New World," she thinks of herself as a pretend teenager among the real stuff. She is struggling to find herself everything that she knew is gone and she has to struggle to adopt a new identity new familiarity with her new environment. Just like Momaday in The Way to Rainy Mountain, Baldwin also manages to control his voice and emotion throughout his piece A Stranger in the Village. He clearly brings out his agenda and give all indication of his strong opinion, but does it in a fair and calm tone. Unlike Hoffman who when confronted with the realities of the "New World" retreats to her past, he finds a sound reason to proceed "…..there were certainly no element of intentional unkindness, there was yet no suggestion that I was human: I was simply a living wonder" (Baldwin 2).

In addition, Hoffman appears to come from a personal perspective of issues and this explains her fixation with Cracow; she recognizes the fact that one can make paradise from any situation in reference to her childhood and yet fails to apply this reasoning in the New World. Momandy, complements this by being rather objective in his story, which demands a personal view. He gives a well-defined description of the landscape he encountered to his special place, The Rainy Mountain the place of the Kiowa culture, the talks about the "The skyline in all directions being close at hand, the high wall of the woods and deep cleavages of shade…Clusters of trees, and animals grazing far in the distance, cause the vision to reach away and wonder to build upon the mind" (Nomaday) he however fails to say how this affects him. He avoids connecting his readers on a personal level in a bid to engage them into the story. This is a good example of his objective perspective, dwelling more on the description of places of The Way to Rainy Mountain and less on his emotional state of mind as Hoffman does in her story. To Hoffman, Cracow was more than just a place it represented life; she was personal about the place to the point that even the sounds were a reassurance that she was at home. She really connects her readers with her emotional connection to Cracow a hindrance to her coming to terms with reality. Baldwin on the other hand chooses to analyse the situation. He applies a journalistic and observational approach to the tone of his writing unlike Hoffman who capitalizes on the emotions and reasoning of a thirteen-year-old as the basis of her story. These techniques create a personal voice, but one that works to pull the reader to his side as he delivers a more convincing and believable argument. He seems successfully to come to terms with his experiences based on the fact that his feelings spring from a deep understanding of the history of black segregation.

A close examination of Hoffman's story reveals that she concentrates much on her memories, her life, as…

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