The Story “Birthday”, Written by David Wong Louie Short Summary

Read Summary

In Birthday” by David Wong Louie, the main character, Wallace, initially strives to prove his manhood by becoming the father figure to Welby, the son of his former lover, Sylvie. However, he is blinded by Frank’s definition of manhood and is unable to recognize the reality that he cannot reestablish his relationship with the boy. Over time, Wallace gradually notices his weak connection to the child, leading him to accept the reality and move on. Through the use of Frank and the law, the child’s room and toys, and the cake, Louie highlights Wallace’s initial blindness, his struggle to see the truth, and his eventual ability to establish an identity separate from Frank and the child. Ultimately, Wallace learns to stay true to himself and accept his own standards of manhood.”

Table of Content

In the story “Birthday”, written by David Wong Louie, Wallace, the main character, changed from a person who was blinded by both other’s judgment and his fantasies to a man who could accept the reality and identify himself by his own standards in it. At first, Wallace was blinded the definition of manhood Frank imposed on him. According to “the man”, being Welby’s father would mean being recognized as a man. Stuck with this idea, the narrator tried desperately to prove himself a man with Frank’s definition, even at the cost of deceiving himself. However, he could not see the fact that neither Frank nor time would allow him to reestablish the relationship with the boy. Although the boy was no longer the child he had known months ago, Wallace could not recognize this change. Nevertheless, as the story went on, Wallace gradually noticed his weak connection to “his son”. In the end, the narrator finally accepted the reality and realized that it would be better for him to move on. This alter in mind set finally woke Wallace from his impossible dream and allowed him to think rationally. As a result, Wallace stayed true to himself and was able to establish an identity that was not defined by either Frank or the child. In essence, Louie used Frank and the law to show Wallace’s initial state of blindness, the child’s room and toys to show his struggle to see the truth, and the cake to show his overcoming of both his fantasy and Frank’s definition of manhood.Throughout the story, the narrator believed that being Welby’s father would mean being recognized as a man. That was why he kept referring Frank, who was the boy’s father by law, as “the man”. This definition was further acknowledged by “the man” himself. When the two met,

Lee 2Frank said to Wallace, “It’s about time we had a man-to-man” (126). At first glance, this line seemed to put the two characters on equal grounds. Indeed, Frank acknowledged that on the previous issues with Sylvie, they were “dead even” (126). However, the in depth look of this line showed that Wallace was less a man than Frank. Since Wallace was the one who kept asking Frank to hand over the boy, he was, by the definition of this complicated issue, not the man. However, Frank, the one who had the boy, set up and imposed this definition of “the man” on Wallace. Due to physical differences, Wallace bought into the imposition. Moreover, Sylvie came back to Frank, further putting the narrator in a less manly position. Based on these circumstances, Frank was really putting Wallace down when he told him that “it’s about time we had a man-to-man” (126); what he meant was that Wallace should stop trying to bypass him if he wanted to become a man by getting the boy.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

Cite this page

The Story “Birthday”, Written by David Wong Louie Short Summary. (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved from

Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront