Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jasmine's Father - Analysis

Paul Tan

Paul Tan Kim Liang has published three volumes of verse. Curious Roads (1994) and Driving into Rain (1998) won prizes at the Singapore Literature Prize competitions. His most recent collection is first meeting of hands (2006). His writings have appeared in publications like The Straits Times, The New Straits Times and Commentary.

Criticism : A Wilting Bloom
Short Stories : The Oriental Grocer
Short Stories : Jasmine's Father
Jasmine’s Father


The story basically revolves around the flashbacks of the protagonist/narrator who essentially remains unnamed. The plot starts off with a realization by the protagonist/narrator of the irony of his present situation in the light of his daughter’s behavior and sharing with him. We are then introduced to the daughter, Jasmine ,who is the only named character in the story The story moves forward through a chronological order of the changes in Jasmine’s life as seen through the eyes of the protagonist when she first started working until the day she left for Canada.

Significant milestones in the plot are as follows:
o Introduction : The narrator recalls the irony of his present situation and that of his daughter’s current situation
o Conflict: The father remembers that the daughter’s present condition as being due to Jasmine’s workplace
o Climax: When the father was informed of Jasmine’s decision to migrate
o Resolution: Acceptance of the migration and of life alone.


The story has no definite setting; the settings that are presented are set in the mind of the protagonist/narrator and remain essentially there. The only clear setting was during the flashback to the pivotal point in the story where Jasmine breaks the news of her impending migration. The setting for this point was the garden.


The main symbolisms in the story are:
□ The omission of the name of the boss to represent the society that Jasmines lives and works in.
□ The entire patriarchal society of Singapore is personified as a single entity in the form of “The System”


□ The main characters in the story is the protagonist/narrator, Jasmine and the System
□ The protagonist, who is only identified as Jasmine’s father is seen as a loving father who does open channels of communication between him and his daughter and who in the end changes to acceptance of his empty nest status in life.
□ Jasmine, the daughter, is portrayed here through the eyes of her father is presented as being:
o Opinionated
o Self-confident
o Determined Modern
□ The antagonists in the story is the personification of the patriarchal working society in Singapore in the mind of Jasmine as the System

Point of View

-First Person. Limited Omniscience
-We are introduced to the narrator’s thoughts but are only given to speculations concerning Jasmine’s rationale for her actions.

Continuum of Ironic moving on to Fondness and finally Acceptance

Coping with Change, Generation Gap, Conflict between Value Systems


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