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Izon, Francesca March 1, 2019

ENLIT 12 D Literary Analysis 1

Distance Brought About by Disparity

The story entitled “Border Lover” revolves around a Filipina emigrant and her visit to her grandmother
in the Philippines. The text reflects the reality experienced by Filipino migrants and their families with
regards to how one member leaving the country can affect his/her relationship with his/her own family.
This certain drift in the relationship can be rooted from the difference in culture, and mannerisms of one
country from another as exemplified in the story.

Throughout the text, the story unfolds to show that despite the granddaughter’s annual visits to her
grandmother, it is evident that the relationship of the two is starting to drift apart. The granddaughter,
based from her thoughts, actions, and way of speaking, has changed. This is caused by her stay in a
foreign country which has exposed her to different mannerisms and ideals that are different from that of
her grandmother’s Filipino culture.

The banana heart was mentioned in the story where the narrator likened her head to a banana heart in
which she wears a different face speaking a different language. This symbolizes how like a banana heart,
she changes according to her surroundings. Moreover, she mentioned Kristeva’s semiotic which is a
concept in language that is analogous to tone, and movement that reveals the real individual, who
he/she really is. In this case, she is confused as to who she is and who she may be becoming.

In the line, “...I don’t know how it is to land and not land, my wings rearranging themselves for home
and not home.”, it can be deduced that the granddaughter was seemingly having difficulty to adjust
herself according to where she was going to stay. This was followed by the grandmother advising her to
look back on herself just in case she loses her way. This piece of advice signifies that the grandmother
has sensed her granddaughter’s confusion regarding her social identity.

An example to this would be how the daughter’s use of language is switching from Filipino to English,
with terms her grandmother could not comprehend. This act of speaking brought distance between
them because her grandmother did not completely understand her, and that seemingly showed how she
is slowly detaching from her Bikolano roots. To add, it is evident how even the granddaughter’s way of
thinking has changed. As seen in the line, “...Western thought has allowed me entry into their arts, their
academies.”, the granddaughter clearly expresses her gratitude and pride towards the Western influence
because this was what allowed her pursue her studies abroad. However, her grandmother is appalled by
her ideals as seen in her responses to the granddaughters claims, saying that “What about your thought,
our thought back here?....are they interested in what I have to say as well, ha?”

In one portion of the story, the grandmother told her granddaughter that “You are no longer you, and
you know that...” which indicates that the grandmother acknowledges the fact that she is changing, and
that she may potentially be losing her granddaughter because of how much she has been influenced by
her Western exposure.

Despite all these claims, the granddaughter continuously denies to her grandmother that she has
changed. She defended the way she speaks stating that to speak in a Western tongue is a necessity, but
her mouth is still that of her original self. In addition, throughout the story it was shown that the
daughter was writing about her grandmother’s banana heart, and her “irrepressible kitchen discourse”,
as a way to show her loyalty towards her, and how she still stays intact with her roots.
Izon, Francesca March 1, 2019
ENLIT 12 D Literary Analysis 1

The story involved a few poems each of which may pertain to her Filipino roots, given how her first
poem is of banana leaves, and the last one is about her grandmother’s preparation of her meals. The first
poem may be signifying about her own unveiling as she changes throughout her life. As for the last
poem, in the line “two dishes from one heart”, this may signify how the grandmother sees her
granddaughters change and acknowledges it as something that is part of her and her growth. She is
growing differently, given how she is now being influenced by her Western exposure/ life in Australia.

By the near end of the story, the narrator shared how her visits to her grandmother has a certain
pattern. It begins with her grandmother chattering upon her arrival, followed by her cooking all her
favorite meals for dinner. During the meals, her grandmother would urge her to eat more, then
eventually she would speak briefly until she refuses to talk. By the time the she leaves, her grandmother
refuses to drop her off to the airport. From this part, its presumed that the grandmother is distancing
herself away from her granddaughter because she is leaving her again. It is possible that the
grandmother acts in such a manner because she knows that her granddaughter would be gone again for
some time, and it would be best if she, herself, would put the distance between them.

This type of issue is common among Filipino migrants such as OFWs, because the time they spend
away with their loved ones usually results in both sides slowly distancing away from each other. In the
story, it is subtle but evident how the relationship of the grandmother and granddaughter may not be
the same anymore in such a way that their difference in language use, and ideas has caused the
grandmother to feel different towards her granddaughter. Amidst all the claims made by the
granddaughter stating that she is still who she is, it is clearly evident in the way that she acts and
speaks that she has been greatly influenced by the life she lives in abroad. In the present, foreign culture
specifically language, has greatly influenced the way people speak and think in such a way that,
commonly, people are looked upon if they worked abroad because their language use and manner of
speaking has changed, into a more socially acceptable way of speech. The drifting apart of the two
characters in this story may have been caused by the difference in perspective when it comes to
language, seeing how the grandmother is dismayed with the way her granddaughter has changed the
language she uses for speech.

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