A Thousand Years Of Good Prayer

1038 WordsFeb 14, 20175 Pages
Deeper Than Words: Communication in “A Thousand Years of Good Prayer,” by Yiyun Li There are those who have a difficult time expressing themselves with words. It is as though there is a communication barrier between people even if they are speaking the same language. The struggle for successful communication can be even harder if different languages are spoken. Even if there are no words spoken, communication between two people still occurs. Yiyun Li’s short story “A Thousand Years of Good Prayer” offers an excellent study in communication. This study includes examples of communication barriers and the successful aspects of communication revealing the ultimate theme: communication does not need to be verbalized to have a relationship…show more content…
In the same way the language barrier hinders conversation. Mr. Shi knows little English and mostly speaks in Chinese. This hinders true communication between him and Madam, a woman he meets in the park He feels that “sometimes they run out of English” (406). When there are no more English words to be said, both revert to their native language. Neither Mr. Shi nor Madame truly understands what is being said. Mr. Shi wishes at times to communicate to Madam in English: “But he is sure, even before he starts that his English would fail him” (406). This struggle for words indicates the lack of communication between him and Madam, but it also indicates the language barrier between him and his daughter. He speaks primarily in Chinese, and while his daughter knows Chinese, she prefers to speak English: “It’s different Baba. We talk in English, and it’s easier. I don’t talk well in Chinese” (413). His daughter does not like speaking in Chinese, and Mr. Shi struggles to converse in English. This problem undermines their relationship. Even though verbal communication is lacking, nonverbal communication is evident. Mr. Shi notices, “her eyes behind her glasses, wide open and unrelenting, remind him of her younger years” (408). He notices his daughter’s curiosity and need for an answer even though few words are said. He is aware of her need, but he refuses to tell her the truth. Mr. Shi’s daughter’s eyes remind
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