Compare and Contrast the “Monkey Bridge” and “The Buddha in the Attic”


Compareand Contrast the “Monkey Bridge” and “The Buddha in the Attic”

Compare and Contrast the “Monkey Bridge” and “The Buddha in theAttic”

In the novel “Monkey Bridge”, the woman in question, Ms. Cao,who in 1975 had left Vietnam and is currently teaching in theBrooklyn Law School, and international law school, narrates a storyof a certain family fracture and disintegrated by the Vietnam law.The novel is about a story that narrates about the immigrantsstruggling with what could be referred to as mind-bogglingpossibility and confusion of life in the United States (Cao, 1997).On the other hand, Julie Otsuka’s “The Buddha in the Attic”studies the lives of the Japanese brides that went for overseasescapades with a voyage from their native country Japan to the UnitedStates around 1900s. In the ship, these women began comparingpictures of their husbands to be. The pictures reveal young handsomemen with plaited dark hair, while at the front of the Ford’sT-model (Otsuka, 2011). The women are wondering whether they will beable to recognize them when they are out of the ship. They are alsowondering if they will be happy. The paper therefore, will attempt tocompare and contrast both the novels “Monkey Bridge” and “TheBuddha in the Attic” in terms of differences in gender experiencecollectively between women.

Tobegin with, in the “Monkey Bridge”, the novel revolves around themain character’s first person reminiscences, with delineating therelationship between two women, a relationship, which was turned downafter a move to America. The women in this novel are not comfortableenough in their relationship. With slight instances of comfort, it iseasy to say that they struggle to make it work (Cao, 1997). Forinstance, Mai, back in Saigon, only finds the comfort within solidgeometry of her own mother’s uncomfortable life. The women in thenovel again struggle to settle in their new surroundings, especiallyin conversing with the local communities. In Virginia suburbs forexample, Mai and other women, including Ms. Cao, struggles to masterthe spoken language. They are the one who tells Mai’s mother,another woman, what is an acceptable behavior of not.

On the other hand, Otsuka, the author of “The Buddha in the Attic”,present her brilliance through the women portrayed in the novel.These women have a common type of relation in the novel “MonkeyBridge”, since in the chapter “First Night”, the authorrecounts new relationships created by the women, especially MamaTuyet, to have undergone physical consummation (Cao, 1997). Somewomen undergo harrowing experience, while others are humorous intheir engagements. The harrowing experience is different from thewomen in the novel “Monkey Bridge”, since Mama Tuyet recountswhat she has undergone as an immigrant. From getting casual jobs togiving birth and handling casual racism during the pre-war America,she remembered that one had to identify herself first as Japanese.

MamaTuyet in “Bridge Monkey” and women in “The Buddha in the Attic”are different from Mai and women in today’s Vietnamese andJapanese-America because of the individualization (Otsuka, 2011).Gender between the women on both sides is viewed different. Otsuka’svoice collectively shifts from the Vietnamese and Japanese to theAmerican claiming that the Japanese-Americans have since disappearedfrom our own town. Both the novels however, speak in with a commonvoice. The gender appears to be spoken from a formal distance, whichinfuses both the stories with strong emotions. The women in both thenovels are central figures, with Mama Tuyet and Mai from each side,are both identified with familiar fears and hopes (Otsuka, 2011).This is because both women are of particular character, but theirconcerns on gender took the readers far from the Japanese-Americanexperiences and today’s women.

In“The Buddha in the Attic”, women representing the female gender,are taken for granted since they are seen to represent a roughacclimatization. Here, women are generalized as farm laborers,laundry workers, maids, and shop clerks. The chorus from the authorenables us to view the variety, at the same time, these women’ssimilarity on the attempt to handle negotiations on the life of theimmigrants (Otsuka, 2011). In the novel “Monkey Bridge”, as Maiobserves, a number of Vietnamese immigrants came to the United Stateswithout any identification documents (Cao, 1997). This represents asimilarity with the novel “The Buddha in the Attic”. This isbecause the immigrants, without the ability to get jobs in terms ofmerit, were forced to do casual jobs. Here, the female gender isgreatly affected since the husbands were also known to take them forgranted.

Consequently,gender in the novel “Monkey Bridge” applies to the ability tovent for oneself, and not necessary the female gender that is widelyknown. For instance, lack of documentation for the immigrants wasviewed as cosmetic ones. This was made with a simple vanity to forthe sake of an individual a female gender to be specific, likehaving given oneself a new birthday from the Year of the Rat andwhere she applies for documentation in the Year of the Tiger (Long,2008). The difference with the novel “The Buddha in the Attic” isthat the female gender was dependent more on family, and after a moveto the America, the immigrant women became more of an American andless of Japanese.

Inconclusion, gender and women in both the novels have bothsimilarities and differences. The novel “The Buddha in the Attic”is quick to shift from the Japanese and Vietnamese immigrants tobeing American. This is viewed from Mai and the women immigrantswhose characteristics are filled with descriptive evocative sketcheswith hesitant revelations (Otsuka, 2011). Therefore, it is hard tosay that the whole novel loses a connection with the narrative fromthe author. The novel “Monkey Bridge”, the female genderrepresented by Mama Tuyet, have been rendered with unsentimental andfierce details of what it could be to go back home.


Cao, L.(1997). Monkey Bridge. New York: Penguin Group.

Long, A. (2008). Contemporary Women’s Roles through Hmong,Vietnamese, and American Eyes. Frontiers: A Journal of WomenStudies 29, 1-36.

Otsuka,J. (2011). The Buddha in the attic. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.