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Disappearing

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by

Vu Quoc Cuong

on 1 August 2014

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Transcript of Disappearing

Disappearing
EXPLORING THEMES
1. How does swimming change the narrator's relationship with her husband? Give examples from the story.
Presented by:
By Monica Wood
Nguyen Thi Anh Dao
Nguyen Tai Chuong
Vu Quoc Cuong
Tran Van An

First Stage
Her husband wasn’t interest in her, didn’t help and even laughed her. He just needs her when he wants to have sex. She suffered him.
Examples:
Husband:

“when he starts in, tobacco on his teeth. When he’s done he’s as far as he gets, he could be dead he’s so far away” ... “No wonder you look like that”.

Wife:

“I just lie in the deep sheets and shut my eyes”.
Second Stage
After swimming she was thin, this made her husband was interest in her but she did not care, avoided to sex with him.
Examples:
"He says I’m looking alright, so at night it is worse but sometimes now when he starts in I say no.'
Third Stage
When she was too thin, her husband was angry, put her in the hospital and didn’t care her anymore. She wanted that.
Examples:
"He doesn’t touch me and I smile into my pillow."
2. Why is the narrator unable to follow through on the new interest in her shown by other man? Give some psychological reasons that you can infer from the story.
Because she was a pessimistic attitude, she lost her self-confidence about her body, she thinks that no one wants to look at her anymore,
“I look at them, real ones, not the ones on TV that’s something else entirely.”

She has a bad husband, She says that the other men are interested with her but her husband makes fun of her, she didn’t believe anyone, she was shy they will call her fat and mock her “Fish. He says. Fish in the sea”
3. What do you think the ending means? What imagery in the story reinforces your answer?
She can’t exit her obsession about obesity although she is thin at the present. She’d like to be transparent and invisible in water as vanish like a needle into skin so she is still continuing to swim until she dies.

We’re easy to see that the imagery
“My feet leaving the board, I think, this will be the time”
it seems to show she wants to skill herself.
4. What are the probable roots of the narrator's obsession with disappearing?
- She didn’t have happiness in her life and felt a complex about her obesity/fat
- It is too ironies for her. No sympathize and love for her.

“There are girls there, What bodies. Looking at me and Lettie out the side of their eyes”.
“No wonder you look like that he said”.
“My daughter in law, the one who didn’t want me in the wedding pictures”.
5. Discuss the symbolic nature of water in the story.
Water is the place for her to refuge, it can protect her, help her forget anything. When she swims she also feels the same as everyone and the water doesn't care that she is fat. Her weight is supported by the water and specially she can be invisible as the water.
JUDGING FOR YOURSELF
1. In your view, was Lettie a good friend?
Lettie wasn’t a truly good friend although she was the only person that tried to help the main character to lose weight.
- Firstly, Lettie starts taking swimming lessons with the main character but then stops, and tries to give her advice out of magazines to cut down on certain foods to lose weight even when the main character tries to explain what she is doing, but neither her husband nor her friend seems to understand or take her seriously.
- Later in the story the narrator tells readers that Lettie is not going to the pool anymore
“now that she’s fatter than me"
and she even accuses her of being “uppity”.
2. Is it fair to blame the husband for his wife’s problem?
- The lack of the husband’s attention is one of reasons force the I-narrator to being lonely that she really wants
“transparent and invisible”
. If he loved her with all his heart, paid attention to his wife's psychology, maybe she wouldn't be killed by her self-obsession.

- The husband represents the prejudice in postmodern society which is mainly dominated by men and uses the slender body of a woman as the only path to success and power.
3. Should the wife have followed Lettie’s advice and left her husband?
As mentioned above, the main character’s obsession is originated from social prejudice, so leaving her husband is not a good advice while she didn’t overcome her self-obsession
“who would want me”
. Clearly, the main character lived a life which depends on men and social prejudice very much.
4. Would it have made a great difference to the narrator’s life if she had encouraged one of the men who began to look at her as her figure and her morale improved?
- In the middle of story, when she becomes thinner, her husband and men start to interest her, look at her figure. However, she does not seem to enjoy the attention she gets, she still wants to be “invisible and transparent”, wants to disappear because of her pessimistic attitude. She does not overcome her self-obsession.

- If she had had both a men encouraging her and optimistic morale-don't care what people say, It would have made a great difference to the narrator’s life-Maybe, she would find happiness in her life.
5. Do you think the narrator is being courageous or cowardly in her quest to disappear? Support your answer.
There was a little bit cowardliness in her quest to disappear-suicide.

- She is unable to overcome her self-obsession to change her life as mentioned above.
- Her desire of being noticed vs. being invisible is very contradictory. At first, people ignore her, she is “invisible” because of her weight; then she starts becomes thinner and gains confidence while being noticed by her husband and even other men; and finally becomes “invisible” again.

Her quest to dis appear can be interpreted as an unconditional surrender to a patriarchal system that consistently denies women’s equality.
MAKING CONNECTIONS
1. What is your society’s attitude toward fat people?
I would answer that my society’s attitude toward fat people is normal. People do not have any discrimination to the fat. However, overweight people may easily cause obesity and the obesity rate is increasing every year in Vietnam getting many concerns from the whole society. As a result of obesity disease, the number of people with high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes and other health problem including sexual disorders has increased in Vietnam. Fat people feel unconfident themselves rather than being stayed away from the rest.
2. Would you say that fat people are discriminated against in your culture? Give examples to substantiate your answer.
As mentioned above, there is no discrimination against fat people in Vietnamese culture. Example, fat people are served well in a restaurant, have the same opportunity to work or to study…
At present, eating disorders are quite common in Vietnam. Being very busy working and studying, family members do not have time to have meals together regularly. Some people even never eat in time. On the other hand, some others eat too much nutrient while cannot find ways to physically exercise. This habit of eating may easily result to obesity and other diseases. To fat people, eating too much is a habit that they can hardly stop which make them more overweight. On the contrary, some starve themselves because they want to have a thin body like model.
Eating too quickly leads to overeating when the food you have eaten has not yet reached your stomach and told your brain you are full. You will know you are eating too quickly if you feel stuffed about 20 minutes after you stop eating.

3. Are eating disorders common in your society? What do you think causes people deliberately to overeat or to starve themselves?
Three types of eating disorders:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating Disorder

4. Does the concept of marital rape exist in your country? Do you think a man is raping his wife if he insists on having sex with her against her wishes? Should he be punished?
- No, it doesn’t. However, we can consider this is a kind of family violence laws.
- Yes and he should be punished. The punishment depends on the cases and the ways he does with his wife. For example, some men use rope to tie his wife and…

THANK YOU FOR YOUR ATTENTION !
I have to change my life
“My feet leaving the board, I think, this will be the time”
Full transcript