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Memoirs of a Geisha Essays

Adriana Lindenfeld English 11 Honors 6 June 2012 Memoirs of a Geisha Arthur Golden Part I: Questions 1. Summarize as briefly as possible the single change, which occurs to the protagonist during the course of the book. Sayuri is the protagonist as well as the narrator of the novel Memoirs of a Geisha. Her story begins with her life in the poor fishing village of Yoroido where she is known as Sakamoto Chiyo. She is the uneducated daughter of the fisherman Sakamoto Minoru and his second wife. Chiyo spends the early years of her life with her fisherman father and ill mother. She is an intelligent and imaginative girl with light grey eyes.
Unfortunately Chiyo’s future in Yoroido is bleak. Several unusual circumstances bring her to the attention of Tanaka Ichiro the wealthiest man in the village and owner of the Japan Coastal Seafood Company. One day Chiyo has an accident and she meets Mr. Tanaka, after this encounter her life changed dramatically. Ichiro is responsible for the sale of Sayuri and her sister Satsu to Okiya in Gion. They are separated for the first time in their lives and Chiyo is deeply unhappy. Chiyo does not feel welcome in her Okiya and dreams of being reunited with Satsu start to appear through her mind.
Her luck improves when she meets the Chairman who secretly instructs Mameha to train Chiyo as a geisha. Three men Dr. Crab, Nobu and the General, influence her success as a geisha. Sayuri becomes a renowned and popular geisha in Gion. The final years of Sayuri’s life are the happiest. In her innocence, Sayuri at first sees Ichiro as a heroic savior in her life, later she despises him for ruining her life and still later she sees his actions for what they were a misguided attempt at giving her a better life than the one she would have had in Yoroido. 2. Find three passages that you like.
How does the author appeal to your emotions in those passages? Explain. a. “… some girls are smart and some are stupid,” Chapter 4 pg. 53 When reading this phrase many thoughts and mix feelings start to come through my mind because for me being intelligent or stupid is not a condition that we can choose when we born. Instead it is a bio-psychological and environmental condition that humans beings born with. Therefore for me classifying or labeling people as smart or stupid is not right. Being intelligent will allow the person to grow, mature, and develop his/her intellectual capacities to the point where they set their goals in life.
In the other hand, a person who is stupid will face difficulties to mature psychological and socially, as well as to develop intellectually. b. “You hate anyone more successful than you. ” Chapter6 p. g. 76 When a person is better at doing something than another one, hatred could appear in the person that does not have the same capacities at performing that task. In my opinion that feeling should be eliminated and instead accept that everyone is different; once this occurs that person can set new goals to reach and therefore, that feeling of hatred is turn into a feeling of improvement, creating a healthy environment between people. . “I may have been no more than fourteen, but it seemed to me I’d lived two lives already. My new life was still beginning, though my old life had come to an end some time ago. ” Chapter 13 p. g. 161 With this quote I can see myself described. When I was about to turn fourteen years old I moved from Venezuela, my hometown. My whole life was centered there: my friends, my family, my school, and many other things. Leaving my country and starting a new life in a place completely different to the one I was used too was a difficult experience.
This is why for me it seems that I already have lived two lives. 3. What cultural and/or political conditions are described in the book? Do the characters accept or reject these conditions? Does the author approve of the characters’ choices? Explain. The obstacles Sayuri undergoes throughout her life in Memoirs of a Geisha echo the social concerns and difficulties experienced by many women born in the early twentieth century, regardless of country or caste. Sayuri’s fate, like that of many other women of her time, was largely predetermined by the dictates of beauty, class, and male patronage.
Sayuri’s life as a geisha and her subsequent ability to break her dependency on others and determine her own life is reflective of the path many women must make from dependency to self-actualization. A geisha, while professionally trained to entertain powerful men, can be viewed as no more than a distillation of the female position in most societies. Most women are born into situations where, openly or secretly, they must step on their looks or their status in order to move forward in society, carving a narrow space for themselves between the dictates drawn by their looks and their caste.
Sayuri herself inquiries the reader on whether her fate as a geisha is any different from that of many modern women, who marry wealthy men in order to enhance their social status, only to find that they must follow the rules set by society in order to maintain their desired class and standing. These women, like Sayuri, may have figuratively bartered their virginity for an enhanced place in their respective social castes. Yet Sayuri, while acknowledging her position in society, retains her sense of power by using her position as a geisha to propel her to her desired point in life. 4.
Does your choice of text remind you of a movie you have seen? Discuss some of the connections between the book and the movie. What have you found to be similar characters? setting? theme? When reading this book I immediately start to build connections with the Disney movie Cinderella. For me Memoirs of a Geisha is kind of the Japanese version of Cinderella; there is a stepmother, 2 wicked stepsisters, a fairy godmother, and a prince. Just like the story of Cinderella, Sayuri is living a normal, simple life. Soon after, her life takes a complete turn for the worse, or so she thinks at the time.
She is being forced to be a geisha, and is separated from her family. She does not like where she is and tries to escape only to fail and have her geisha training taken away from her. After some time, she gets help from another geisha names Mameha who is in a way her fairy godmother who helps her to continue her training as a geisha. She goes from being a maid for the rest of her life to wearing expensive kimono and going to social events. Sayuri ends up finding her happily ever after that she had been desiring with the chairman. She had carried his handkerchief around with her wherever she went.
Acting as the slipper from Cinderella; waiting for the right moment to expose herself to him. She becomes that of a princess only after the chairman recognizes her. .She went from poverty to being well known and most important living her life happy and how he desired, and that is how Cinderella ended too. 5. Does the conflict in the book remind you of a conflict you have experienced? How did you resolve that conflict? What lesson did you learn? If you wish, you may use a conflict that you have read about in a newspaper or a magazine article.
There is one conflict in the book that brings to my mind memories of an experience that I recently went through; although my experience is in some ways different from the one in the book. Two years ago my parents decided to move from Venezuela to Miami for a better life. This decision was not in my hands. I knew it was going to be for my own benefit, but as every major change in life it was hard to accept it, since I was leaving my grandmothers back in Venezuela. Also I knew that I will need to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, including a new language.
The conflict that I relate this with in the book is when Sayuri and her sister are taken by Mr. Tanaka for a better life. They had no voice in this decision and they will also need to adjust to a new lifestyle. Part II: Essay Prompt: How does the type of language used in your book reflect the personality of one of the characters? Since the main character of Memoirs of a Geisha is the narrator, the language used describes all the aspects of Sayuri. As the plays goes on, the language reflects more of the personality of Sayuri as she becomes a geisha.
In order for Golden’s narrative style to be convincing, the language he uses has to be realistic as the kind of language a geisha would use. The translator’s note at the beginning helps to understand this particularly when describing some of the characters. It is unusual for a geisha ever to speak of her experiences, part of the allure of geisha is the secrecy and privacy associated with their relationships; it would be unheard of for a geisha to tell all her secrets and possibly shame or embarrass someone, hence the code names for the characters to protect their identity.
Sayuri narrates the novel as an older lady living in New York. In doing this Golden provides the opportunity for her to explain complex geisha traditions such as “mizuage” to a Western audience without it seeming out of place. With the intended audience being a Western culture, we have the benefit of the correct Japanese terms and then their explanations. The delicate nature and artistic role of the geisha also influences the language used. The language is often flowery and descriptive, using symbolism or metaphor to convey meaning figuratively rather than literally, making the novel more interesting and realistic.

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