The Shadow Hero (1-71) Close Reading Response

2015-10-18 16.31.212015-10-18 16.31.31

<Hank, your face…! I’ll get some ointment from the shelf.>

<No, Ba. I’m Fine>

<You save that for the customers.>

<Hua, stop! Everyday Hank comes home with fresh bruises!>


<Don’t you think you’ve taken this too far?>

<What!? How can you be so selfish? If your lonely during the day, call up your delinquent friends for Mahjong! Hank is doing something important right now.>

<He doesn’t have to end up a coward like you!>


You think I don’t know about you and that criminal? All because you’re too afraid to stand up to him? And so your wife has to work just to put food on the table! So shameful!>


<You have no idea what you’re talking about, Hua! That’s how business works in Chinatown!>

<Psh. Whatever helps you sleep at night! Just stay out of Hank’s way! He’s going to be something better than you! He’s going to be something more!>

This is the first time that Hank’s mother uses the word “coward” in the story. She is very disappointed with her life, even since she was a small child she has been unhappy. She had such amazing dreams of what America would be like, however, due to racial segregation her family was forced to live in a small, dirty, part of town, known as Chinatown. When she calls Hank’s father a “coward,” she is referring to him paying off the criminals who claim “to rule” that area of Chinatown where they live. I found this argument rather interesting between Hank’s parents for several reasons. First, it shows how because of all of the disappointments in Hank’s mother’s life she wants better for her son, she wants him to be something great. Although it is very common for parent’s to want their children to be great, Hank’s mother is very selfish for her reasoning. She is ignoring what Hank wants, however, because he cares so much about his family, he willing to do what it takes to make his mother happy. Another interesting aspect of this argument is Hank’s father, he truly believes that what he doing, paying off Mock Beak, is what is best for his family, even though it may not be the best decision. This provide foreshadowing into what ends up happening in the future, after Hank tries to get revenge for his father. I’m interested to see if Hank’s mother keeps continuing to be selfish after Hank’s father dies, or if she lets Hank help in the ways that he can once the Turtle spirit enters his shadow.


12 thoughts on “The Shadow Hero (1-71) Close Reading Response

  1. I too am interested in seeing how Hank’s mother will change as a character when Hank’s father is killed. As much as I’d find that appropriate, I feel as though she won’t. Her unhappiness existed since she was young and it has bled into her life through to adulthood, so I find it unlikely that after her husband’s death she would change as much as we’d hope.


  2. It is unfair that because of their race, they have to live in Chinatown. This is not the best area so they are not getting the full experience of what America is and all that it has to offer. I agree, all parents want what is best for their children, but Hank’s mother isn’t looking out for Hank, she is thinking more about herself. Hank’s character shows that he is very selfless and is willing to do anything to please his mother. Although paying the criminal is not a good thing, Hank’s father has good intentions because he believes that is whats best for his family.


  3. This section hits on a common concern that parents have when it comes to their children. It is often said that parents strive for their children to have a better life, and that is what seems to be bothering Hank’s mother. However, in this particular case you could argue that the father is more realistic when it comes to the group who claims to control the area.


  4. I really like the passage you spoke to talk about. I believe that Hank’s father being the man of the house knows what’s best for the family, and if he thought that paying the criminal wold hurt his family then he wouldn’t do it. The fact that Hank’s mother calls her husband a coward shows that she is unhappy with his decision making; so she doesn’t want to see Hank doing the same thing as his father. She just wants the best for her child as all parents want to see their children happy and successful.


  5. I found that Hank’s mother was being selfish as well, despite seeming to want the best for her son. It seemed that she felt that she deserved better in life than what she had, I am curious as to the origin of this entitled attitude. She wants Hank to be great however she only seems to want this in order to vindicate herself, which while on the surface appears to be motherly love eventually reveals itself as selfishly motivated and uncaring for the desires of others. The carelessness goes to the point of actually putting Hank into great danger, yet his mother continues to act as if doing so is for the best.

    -Justin Wright


  6. I find the mother and father to be very interesting characters of the story. The mother is disappointed with her life because of her high expectations and desire for color in her life. While the father is perfectly content with his life as a grocer because he has had a drunken life. The mother does not seem to understand the idea of cowardice. She only seems to view bravery as putting yourself in dangers way. She does not understand that her husband is stronger to resist drinking and fighting. It says something that the father looks for the happiness of his wife and resists the urges of his past. The marriage between these two mostly seems to be of obligation and face value. They do not seem to really understand each other.She also seems to be a coward herself because she is unable to face the truth of how her life turned out and to enjoy it. Cowardice seems to be a big role in this novel that shows another side to a superhero.

    -Serina Thomas


  7. This argument between Hank’s parents was crucial because it truly shows how being oppressed for being Chinese led Hank’s mother to be disappointed so many times that she’s become so frustrated and angry. She takes her frustrations out on her loved ones, and now pushes Hank to his limits. It’s ironic that she calls Hank’s father out for being selfish, because she is quite obviously the selfish parent. However, her selfishness and rough personality is just directly stemming from her frustrations with her own life. Hank seems to be a flawless character compared to his parents.
    -Jillian Valdes


  8. The part about “that criminal” (Yang and Liew, 34) serves as great foreshadowing of events to come. Although I would agree that Hank’s mother is being selfish, at least she has high hopes for her son, high hopes that would later come true. As for Hank himself, I would have done the same thing in his positon, for hell has no fury like a woman scorned. We also see a Shadow appear when Hank’s father tries to drink some alcohol. It may have some relation to the 4 spirits at the beginning of the story and hopefully it will be elaborated on more in the future.

    Jiapeng Zhao


  9. This was an interesting part of the story, and speaks about the common urban idea of the ghetto- where immigrants flock together in a certain part of town that may not be the most desirable area, but often are there because of other members of their race present. This is a common theme in many 20th/21st century stories involving immigrants. I do feel as though Hank’s mother is being selfish and somewhat unreasonable. She, of course, just wants the best for her son but she is doing so by shaming him and expressing her disappointment in him.


  10. I definitely believe you choose a very interesting portion of the story to close read. You said that you believe the mother is being selfless for wanting more for her son than he wants for himself, however I can’t agree with that statement. All parents want more for their children however some are more vocal than others. It might be a cultural difference but some parents rather voice their opinion oppose to selflessly and silently watching their child go on the wrong path and fail. I’m interested to see how this story develops.
    -Nicole Crippen


  11. Its interesting that you chose the word “selfless” because is the mother really being selfless? Obviously all parents want the best for their child no matter what, but complete selflessness it is not. Every proud parent brags about their child to the other parents, and the mother especially. Yes she doesn’t want her son going down the wrong path, no parent wants that, because the child is meant to aspire to bigger and better things then the parents did, and if the child fails and goes down the wrong path, well thats also embarrassing for the parents. So selfless wouldn’t be the word i would have chose, i would have chose caring, because at the end of the day, the mother is very caring abut her child’s life.


  12. This segment really illustrates (no pun) the frustration and disappointment that Hanks mother feels with his father. Being constantly let down with many things in her life she has turned to Hank for some excitement in a chance to live vicariously through him. Her frustration is especially apparent when she is questioned by Hank’s father if she is taking the crime fighting to seriously and she lashes out at him. This serves as an adequate precursor to the action of Ba getting shot later, and subsequently being missed by Hua.


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