Silence in Wilshire Bus - Essay Example

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In the short story Wilshire Bus by Hisaye Yamamoto, there is a heavy and foreboding silence. The racial diatribe of the ‘somatotonic man’, ushers in a silent response from all the other passengers, irrespective of their race, yet the fact is that the silence of each passenger affiliates…
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Silence in Wilshire Bus
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"Silence in Wilshire Bus"

To begin with, the setting in the Wilshire Bus as the narrative starts is one of peace and quiet. In fact, the initial bantering of the somatotonic man positively invites a hearty sense of amusement from all the other passengers, including Esther. However, once the oriental couple boards the bus, then the somatotonic man begins to say a bitter racial diatribe. All the passengers seem to give in to this expression of racial hatred, choosing to hide behind their helpless silence. In that atmosphere marked be least resistance, apathy and silence, nothing seems to be heard except the pain and fear residing in Esther’s mind.
The first and involuntary response of Esther is to emotionally and psychologically distance herself from the victimized oriental couple. She desperately tries to hide in the depths of her own consciousness. She tries hard to appear as unconcerned as other passengers. However, slowly but gradually the expression of racial hatred by the somatotonic man starts to have an influence on Esther. His words begin to remind her of varied other experiences she had as a Japanese-American in the US. Perhaps they begin to remind her of the historic injustice that the Japanese-Americans had to bear with during the World War II and many other instances of ill will between the two civilizations. Gradually the hatred being expressed by the somatotonic man brings to life a much larger issue of the history of political bitterness between America and her country of origin. It no longer remains an issue between a few people, but rather enlarges to an issue between two cultures and civilizations. Read More
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