WRITTEN BY MAY-LEE CHAI
May-Lee Chai is the oldest child of her parents. Her was from
Irish decent, and her dad was born in Shanghai. Chai lived in
14 states and 4 countries, but she was born in Redlands,
California. Chai is an educator and writer, and she has
received a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in
Literature. She has published many works including books,
short stories, and more. Chai is very educated having bachelor
degrees in French and Chinese Studies at Grinnell College.
She gained a M.A. from Yale University in East Asian Studies.
The University of Colorado is where she gained another
Master's in English-Creative Writing. Chai enjoys learning
new languages, and she has attended universities in Taiwan,
France, and China. She has taught at San Francisco State
University, the University of Wyoming, and Amherst College.
People are just as happy as they make up their minds
― Abraham Lincoln
This quote relates to this story because it explains
how Sourdi chose to be happy even though she was
somewhat forced to marry Mr. Chhay, a much older,
bald man. It was her choice to leave her old family,
stay with Mr. Chhay and have a family with him.
Despite the fact that she was once in love with a poor
boy, Duke, she was able to think positively and move
on to a man that her mother approved of.
The story started in a restaurant called Silver
Palace in South Dakota. At first, they lived in Texas
where her Ma worked many jobs, but moved in
South Dakota to their uncle's place. Nea and Sourdi
were in the restaurant serving some men that we're
Nea: Main character of the story. Sourdi's little sister.
She doesn't think about the consequences, and is
Sourdi: Nea's older sister. She is the type of person who
holds things in, and is different from her sister. Was
married to Mr.Chhay when she was 18
Duke: Worked at the Silver Palace cleaning dishes. Was
in a relationship with Sourdi, until he was fired, and they
had to stop dating.
Mr.Chhay: Sourdi's husband ,was way older than Sourdi.
Ma: Nea and Sourdi's mother.
The story began when Nea and Sourdi were working at the restaurant alone while there were
some drunk men. One of them was trying to put his arms around Sourdi, and when Nea saw it,
she did what she had to do to protect her, so she stabbed the man in the arm. She thought that
her mother and sister would be proud of her for protecting her sister from the man, but instead,
the mother was apologizing to them and made her apologize as well. Later that night, Nea was
talking to Sourdi, she said she should have killed the man, but Sourdi was disappointed because
she felt that way.
Then the story moved to the part where Duke and Sourdi started seeing each other. ( this was
the moment when Sourdi and Nea began to drift apart due to Sourdi's relationship with men )
Ma hired Duke to wash dishes at the Palace, and that was where their relationship started. At
first it was good, but he was soon fired because he "dropped a tray of dish", their relationship
stopped because her Ma knew about it. (She felt that he had no future, because he was poor )
After that incident, Sourdi and the family met Mr.Chhay, and that was when Sourdi's life
changed completely. He was several years older than Sourdi. When they got married, Sourdi
became even more separated from her family. After receiving an alarming phone call from
Sourdi, Nea jumped to conclusions and assumed that her sister was in danger. Nea convinced
Duke to take her to West De Moines. which is where Sourdi lives with her new family.Once they
got to Sourdi's home Nea saw her sister with a bruised eye. It turns out that a diaper box fell on
Sourdi's face and she was never in danger. Sourdi was actually happy with her husband and
child. The reason that the previous phone call was alarming was Sourdi was going to have
1. What was the reason that Nea felt the need to resort to violence, and stab
one of her customers?
2. In what ways are Nea and Sourdi different from each other. Please
provide evidence from the text to support your answer.
3. Why did Sourdi's mother feel that she was better off with an older man
rather than Duke?
4. What does Nea learn about family at the end of the story? Use evidence
from the text to support your answer.
5. How does the title "Saving Sourdi" relate to the story? Did Sourdi really
6. Describe the relationship between Nea and Sourdi as the story
7. Do you feel that Duke was really fired for breaking a dish? Explain.
8. One reason for Sourdi marrying Mr.Chhay was for security. What was
Sourdi insecure about?
9.What would you say was the significance and overall meaning of the