Friday, February 4, 2011

1977 by Sarah

1977 by Sarah Manimalethu

1977: I-Hotel

I. And this will conclude our transmission from the International Hotel

Overview: In this chapter, the reader is introduced to the somewhat less-recognizable people who frequent the I-Hotel. We meet Mr. Chang, who wires the I-Hotel for sound transmission, Judy Eng who takes photos of protests and events staged in/around the hotel, Arthur Ma, the newscaster who commentates on the I-Hotel's final protest against eviction on August 3, 1977. Told in the form of Arthur's radio transmission, this chapter tells the bloody and violent story of the Hotel's final protest, which ends in the early morning with the final tenants, now homeless and injured, streaming forward from the Hotel. The Hotel is set to be demolished and the site to be sold.

Quote: "I am crippled, and I am deaf, and I am very old. I am alone here, and they put me in the street. I want freedom, the principle of American democracy in the richest country in the world. Do you think our mayor has a place for me? No. No. Because I was happy here". (Yamashita 586).

Question: Is it possible to accurately assess the role played by the I-Hotel in the lives of its young members, or is it familiar but inexplicable, like the origins of Mr. Chang, Judy Eng and Arthur Ma?

II. Where will you live when you get old?

Overview: This chapter is a reflection on the night of August 3, 1977 from the point of view of someone called to be a part of the human barricade during the protests. This chapter brings to light the unfairness of the life of a boarding-house resident in San Francisco during the time.

Quotes: "Even if we were expected to build, maintain, clean, and service these posts, we weren't expected to live anywhere nearby. Be at work promptly at eight a.m., but please, please disappear by five p.m." (Yamashita 591).

"And yes, we knew that each room was a tiny home, a place of final refuge for a lifetime of work, and that the room, though housed by a hotel, was still a home" (Yamashita 592).

Question: Why is the life of a migrant worker suited to that of a low-rent boarding house?

III. We won't move

Overview: This chapter is told from the point of view of a reminiscent middle-aged former frequenter of the I-Hotel. The speaker conveys the idea that the fervor with which he defended the subversive agenda of the I-Hotel flagged along with his youth, but how, on August 3, 1977, when it really came down to it, all of the people he knew rose to action with the I-Hotel upon seeing the removal of the elderly tenants, which brought back a flood of memories and devotion.

Quote: "And ridiculously, we stood with them and challenged the great machine as it plunged forward, shoving bricks and mortar and steel rods into a gaping, but it was too late" (Yamashita 596).

Question: Why was it too late for the rebellion of the I-Hotel? How did Capitalism affect the movement?

IV. The people united will never be defeated

Overview: The four entrances and their specific meanings are discussed in this chapter. From the north side, one would pass through bookshops and the Asian Community center. Through the central entrance, one might come across leaders of Asian-American community unions and protest groups. Coming in from the south, you will likely pass through the dark rooms and creative spaces of community members. Entering through the door of the Chinese Progressive Association, one would witness idyllic scenes and literature of China, and of Mao. All of the I-Hotel frequenters seem to possess their own unique agenda for progression and toward achieving a general sense of open-mindedness.

Quotes: "On the face of it, we were all radical activist revolutionaries, and we were all united to defeat a capitalist-imperialist system of greed" (Yamashita 599).

"An alphabet soup of punching youth, kicking and pushing, beating out the long years, months, and days of our frustrations, strangling the deep disappointment of our failure, finally spilling the blood we could not in nonviolent civil disobedience" (Yamashita 601).

Question: By possessing such a strong revolutionary spirit, do the tenants and supporters of the I-Hotel do themselves a disservice?

V. Do you speak English?

Overview: After the fall of the I-Hotel, gunshots are fired into a Chinese restaurant nearby. Told from the perspective of someone in attendance, this chapter conveys that the sense of urgency with which the I-Hotel was defended has decreased over time, also explaining the myriad pressures of being an immigrant, or newly American, that built up to cause the rage displayed the night of August 3, 1977.

Quote: "How many of us landed right here in the great City of San Francisco, merging our new lives with old lives, our new wave splashing against the last wave, encountering hte familiar along with the odd stink of the anachronistic and yet the bravura of tired experience and sacrifice?" (Yamashita 602).

Question: How was the shooting both a natural and unnatural conclusion to the violence of the fall of the I-Hotel?

VI. August 3, 1977

Overview: This shortest chapter of the novella briefly explains the passion with which the I-Hotel was both utilized and defended. The fall of the I-Hotel broke up alliances between many groups and robbed the Asian American youth of a certain amount of their subversive earnestness.

Quote: "To kiss the past and you good-bye, leaving the indelible spit of our DNA on still moist lips. Sweet. Sour. Salty. Bitter" (Yamashita 605).

Question: Did the I-Hotel represent too much unrest to be maintained? Was it fated to fall eventually?

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