A Good Fall The word Freedom has a different connotation in every part of the world, to have freedom means to have certain characteristics. These characteristics would be having the Third Eye, self-control, humility, and the ability to be able to overcome problems with a strategized plan. In the short story collection A Good Fall by Ha Jin, each story puts characters in dissimilar positions where they show whether or not they have the characteristics that define freedom. A Composer and His Parakeet”, “ In The Crossfire”, “The Beauty”, and “Temporary Love” all involve characters that seem to be trapped in a current relationship, but for different reasons. Learned Helplessness is a disease, in which you close your heart and mind to your strong self and settle for your weak self-resulting in shame, several characters are diagnosed with this disease. The Third Eye can be defined as self-awareness, it allows us to interpret the current situation we are in, and analyze the good from the bad.
It emphasizes the bigger, long-term picture over the short-term and helps make decisions out of reason rather emotion. A person with the third eyes exercises discipline over desire. Humility is simply learning from our mistakes to make us stronger and wiser. Fanlin from the story “A Composer and his Parakeets” shows traits of having freedom. His girlfriend Supriya owns a mute parakeet Bori; she leaves Bori with Fanlin as she goes off to Thailand for her job as an actress. At the beginning Fanlin disliked the bird because he believed one of Supriya’s ex-boyfriends gave her the bird.
Over time he grows a heart and starts bonding with the bird, he lets him into his music studio in which the bird was not allowed in at first. Fanlin was preparing to write for an Opera event that was coming up. Weeks went on and the bird went everywhere Fanlin did, until one day by the beach the bird flies away and almost drowns and Fanlin throws himself into the water to save it. Bori would later die the following day and his girlfriend did not seem to care about the bird anymore. This made Fanlin’s third eye kick in as he wondered whether she would not care about him like she did with the bird over time.
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When the bird died so did his relationship with Supriya. Fanlin’s students that he thought music lessons seemed concerned about him and so they bring him another parakeet. This parakeet had a dirty mouth and Fanlin paid him no mind, he even left his window open so he would fly away. After the death of the first bird and the death of his relationship, Fanlin goes on to write a beautiful second half of music in his opera which was full of emotion and is told to go back to rewrite the first half. His second bird would fly away shortly after, symbolizing he being set free from his past relationship that was just a waste of time.
Self-control is the ability to improve our position rather than surrender to self-destruction and compulsion. In the story “Temporary Love”, Lina a married woman who’s husband was in China, lived in the United States with a married man. Although she tells her husband that she lives by herself, she has sexual relations with this married man who’s spouse as well lived in China. They had a mutual agreement to end this temporary relationship until their spouses arrived in the United States. Unfortunately Panbin, the man Lina stayed with grew feelings for her and told her repeatedly he was in love with her.
Lina told him a plethora of times that she was married and that they agreed to end this arrangement whenever one wanted. Her husband was coming to the United States so Lina prepares to move out and find her own apartment. She thought that her husband did not know about the affair but he did. He had his ways of having someone follow her and relay him the information he needed. This put Lina in an uncomfortable position, her husband told her he did not want to find a job and was going to go to business school to get his MBA. Not only that, but Lina was going to pay for it with all her money she had saved in her bank account.
She had no other choice but to pay for his schooling, she feared that once she paid he would soon leave her. Secretly she would visit Panbin for advice but he paid her no mind for leaving him. Now she was trapped in a relationship she could not escape. Lina could either pay and face the consequences of her husband maybe leaving or not pay and face the humility, disappointment, and shame in her by her family back home for her actions. Lina is a victim of learned helplessness. Freedom was a major contributor in Fanlin actions as he could freely relieve himself from Supriya.
As for Lina, she was strapped in for a long ride with the devil. Fanlin is able to figure out that Supriya was no good for him and that she would soon leave him. He made up his mind and left her, and was free without her. Lina in this case was stuck, she had no self-control, she was ashamed of herself and her actions, the only thing she could do was pay her husbands tuition for taking of her ailing father back home. Some people are born with the third eye such as Fanlin, while others lack it and suffer and live a life without any freedom.
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