Simple Recipes

Failing to Fit in Madeleine Thien’s “Simple Recipes” College

Madeleine Thien’s short story, “Simple Recipes”, is told as a memory by an unnamed daughter of Malaysian immigrants in Canada. Thien’s work communicates the difficulties of immigrants, and their second-generation children in adjusting as well as the familial conflicts that arise due to these pressures. Thien uses her characters, symbolism, as well as a juxtaposition of setting in her short story to detail the struggle immigrants have adapting to a new culture outside of their country of origin and familial conflicts that arise as well as the aftermath of these conflicts.

The father, son, and Yan in “Simple Recipes”, as characters, each represent a different level of integration and comfort in Canadian society. The father, according to the daughter is “… out of place” (338) when she dreams of him standing in their home’s kitchen. The daughter does not just mean that he is out of place in the kitchen, but that metaphorically he struggles to fit into Canadian society and may never fully fit in. The father represents a person who has retained much of their original culture and quite possibly does not feel a pressure to change that culture in order to fit in. The son, on the other hand, is caught in a frustrating limbo between...

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