The Price of Indebtedness in May-Lee Chai's "Saving Sourdi"

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The Price of Indebtedness in May-Lee Chai's "Saving Sourdi" Whether stabbing a man with a paring knife or getting a friend to punch her sister's husband in the face, Nea always manages to start trouble for her and her sister, Sourdi. She doesn't do it on purpose, it's just that Nea will do anything to protect her older sister. The issue stems from when the family lived in their native Cambodia; Nea was only four and Sourdi carried her across a minefield on her back. Ever since that moment, Nea has felt indebted to her older sister and has been determined to protect her at all costs. However, the costs seem to be high as her identity has become tied to this notion of debt. In May-Lee Chai's "Saving Sourdi," Nea's identity is shaped…show more content…
Just like the examples that were given earlier, when Nea jumped up and stabbed the man that was hassling Sourdi at the restaurant, or when she and Duke went knocking on Sourdi's door because they thought she was in trouble, all of the actions that Nea took were always a reflection of the situation that Sourdi was in at that present moment. One of the major effects of Nea's identity being tied to her indebtedness to her sister is that it clouds her ability to be objective. This leads her to make spur-of-the-moment decisions that may not be in her or Sourdi's best intertest. One example took place in the family restaurant at the beginning of the story. Sourdi was serving some old drunk men when one decided to put his arms around her. This immediately sent Nea into a blind rage in which she "ran into the kitchen", "grabbed the knife", and "stabbed the man" (Chai 131). Luckily, the knife she had grabbed was only a paring knife and it got caught in the man's sleeve of his jacket. Obviously, the girls' mother became quite upset and apologized to the men while scolding Nea. Nea, overcome with anger, had not stopped to consider the consequences of her actions. Had she actually injured the man, he could have sued the restaurant and Nea could have faced criminal charges. Obviously, this was not the best way to handle the incident. This is again illustrated when Nea overhears a conversation between Sourdi and her mother. She

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