Siriben Somboon English 12 Period 4 Comparative Essay Poem and Vignette The poem “How a Girl Got Her Chinese Name” written by Nellie Wong is compared to thevignette “My Name” in the book of The House on Mango Street written by Sandra Cisneros. Both thepoem and the vignette are very similar to each other. The poem, “How a Girl Got Her Chinese Name” is written in first person which shows how ayoung girl (the narrator) got her name, from “Nellie” to “Nah Lei” to “Lai Oy”. The narrator of the poemis bicultural, Chinese American who lives in United States. Due to the narrator not having a Chinesename, it can be concluded that the narrator is born in the States which they do not need a Chinesename. The narrator’s English name is Nellie. When the narrator goes to the Chinese school, the teachercould not pronounce her name properly, she “stressed the l’s, whinnying like a horse”. The author usessound imagery to emphasize how difficult it is for the teacher to pronounce the narrator’s English name.Then the narrator tells how she got her Chinese name; first the teacher gives her a new name, Nah Lei,which means where or which place. However when the narrator tells her parents her new Chinese namethat the teacher gave to her, her parents dislike the Chinese name that the narrator’s teacher gave toher, so the parents give her a new Chinese name, “Lai Oy”, which means beautiful love or lost pocketdepends on the context. In addition, there is a tone of excitement from the narrator because she runshome/to school to announce her Chinese name. However, in the future the narrator might be confusedwith her identity because she has 2 names which are from different culture (Nellie from Western cultureand Lai Oy from Chinese culture). In comparison, the vignette is also written in first person which showshow a young girl (the narrator) got her name, “Esperanza”. The narrator of the poem is also bicultural,Mexican American who lives in United States. Conversely with the poem, the narrator is born in Mexicobecause she does not have an English nickname like her sisters and brothers because she does not need
an English nickname in Mexico. Both the narrators in the poem and the vignette are bicultural, howeverEsperanza seems to be more mature because she understands about what is the problem of her name,Nellie doesn’t understand the problem of having 2 names which show two culture identity. The narratorgives the meaning of her names both in English and in Spanish. Her name in English means “hope” whichhas a positive connotation. On the other hand, in Spanish, her name means “too many letters”,“sadness”, “waiting”, “muddy color” which have negative connotations to show how much the narratordislike her name. The author also uses synethesia, to show how people in her school, her classmatecan’t pronounce her name properly as if her name “were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your [herclassmate’s] mouth” which is similar to how the teacher can’t pronounce Nellie’s name in the poem.The narrator uses comparison to compare her grandmother and herself to show the similaritiesbetween them having the same name; both of them are born in the year of the horse. Furthermore, thenarrator uses flashback explaining what happened to her grandmother who has the same name to showthat the narrator doesn’t like her name because the narrator doesn’t want to end up like hergrandmother who “looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness onan elbow”. There is also a tone of dissatisfaction with the name narrator is given (Esperanza) becausethe narrator wants to “baptize herself under a new name, a name more like the real her, the onenobody sees”. This contrasts with the poem because in the poem, Nellie likes her Chinese name becauseafter she got her Chinese name, she “ran” to tell her parents her new name which shows the tone ofexcitement of the narrator having a new name. Both the poem and the vignette are similar. They also share a similar theme of the importanceof the name in society. Name can show the identity of a person, just like the name Esperanza whichshows a Mexican culture and Lai Oy which shows a Chinese culture. The name is very important in thesociety because Esperanza wants to change her name to a name that is more like the real her andNellie’s Chinese teacher gave her a Chinese name so Nellie can become part of the Chinese culture.