A Gesture Life Quotes


“Whether the people are happy or not in their lives, they have learned to keep steadily moving, moving all the time.”

Chang-Rae Lee, A Gesture Life

Change is necessary to keep living, a major theme that runs throughout A Gesture Life. While other people have learnt to move on, Hata is inescapably trapped by his past and his memories of the soldier camp and K. This is extremely significant to understanding him as a character; he remains very attached to his past, making it difficult for him to process change in his current life.

“I know again why I favor it so much here, how I esteem the hush of this suburban foliage in every season, the surprising naturalness of its studied, human plan, how the privying hills and vales and dead-end lanes make one feel this indeed is the good and decent living, a cloister for those of us who are modest and unspecial."

Chang-Rae Lee, A Gesture Life

Hata is not a luxurious man; he takes pleasure in simple things. Similarly, he himself is not a special man, with no particularly idiosyncratic traits, and therefore feels safest and most secure surrounded by things like him.

“It seems I have always been fortunate to be in a certain provident, which must be my sole skill, and worth, and luck."

Chang-Rae Lee, A Gesture Life

Hata does not have any flashy special talents, but he has a great ability, need even, to prepare for the future. This can be seen as his greatest talent, but also a great weakness, for he feels the constant obligation to think ahead about the future. In this way, he is never truly living in the present, always reflecting on past memories or thinking about possible future events.

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