Nationality: American with Chinese descent
Occupation: Student at the University of Southern California
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/2/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s): N/A
The informant and I are sitting on my bed in my room. It is about 9:00 pm and she is describing to me some of the stories she heard growing up that impacted her life and viewpoint.
Informant: “So the story was that there was a huge bowl of pears in the dining room table and there’s a little girl and she was the middle child and there’s like an older brother and a younger brother, I don’t think the gender matters. Then a friend came up to the little girl and asked her which pear she was going to get. The little girl ended up grabbing the smallest pear possible in that bowl. Then when the friend asked the little girl why she picked the smallest pear, she replied saying she was going to give a pear bigger than hers to her younger brother. When asked why, she explained how he has yet to experience the good things in life and that in order to know the good things in life he has to at least experience them once. So that’s why he’s experiencing the big pear first so that he knows that’s a good thing. Then she’s going to give a larger pear to both her parents and her brother because they’re older than her out of respect. Then the elders are the most respected and the leaders of the family, and giving them a larger pear is also kind of signifying like they don’t have as much life left to live and so we should be giving the riches of life to them because they don’t have as much time left. Kind of morbid in all honesty.
A: “How did this story affect your life growing up?
Informant: “Oh yeah it had a huge impact on me! Growing up, it’s one of the only stories that I remember from my Chinese book. I actually just asked my mom if she remembered any stories and she said ‘no’ and then when I told her that I remembered the pear story, she still didn’t remember that one. Then I explained it to her and asked her again if she remembered and she said ‘no.’ But that’s always impacted me because I feel that I’ve always tried to prioritize my parents a little bit more in the sense where I did have to respect them because they are my parents. Also, because I wanted to give them things more so because I knew that they wouldn’t have the chance to experience them again like I may have or I will be able to
A: “Was there any significance with the pear and why the pear was the fruit given?”
Informant: I think often times a pear is a symbol of royalty. Ya know how apples are associated with knowledge and giving that to teachers? I think the pear is a symbol of royalty and nobility. Especially in Asian cultures because I feel like everything is a pear versus an apple in Asian cultures.
Within Chinese culture, respecting your elders is one of the most important things. I think what this story is trying to tell children is to always respect those who are older than you because they have more wisdom and also to cherish them. This story also teaches children the joys of sharing with others and giving more to others than yourself. This is therefore then instilling children not to be selfish and care for others since you should want them to experience the best in life as well. Children’s stories play a large role in shaping who they are to become as they learn through examples. This story clearly had a large impact on the informant and has reigned true to present day.