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Summary of the short story "Insignificant moments in the history of Hong Kong" taken from Xu Xi's History's Fiction: stories from the city of Hong Kong.

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Summary The short story I have chosen is "Insignificant moments in the history of Hong Kong" taken from Xu Xi's History's Fiction: stories from the city of Hong Kong. The story consists of two diaries written on 30th June and 1st July 1997 which describe how the main character, Lam Yam Kuen, spent these two important days in Hong Kong's history. Through the description of Lam's visit to Uncle Check's restaurant and the dinner party at his workplace, the author shows the diverse feelings of Hong Kong people towards the handover of Hong Kong to her motherland, China. Author's background Xu Xi is a Chinese-Indonesian native of Hong Kong and she is one of Hong Kong's foremost contemporary English language novelists. She is described like a camera zooming down from the peaks and penthouses to close-ups of the crowded flats and side streets of Hong Kong. Her book is populated by ordinary people like Lam Yan Kuen and their daily lives. Through the stories of these nonentities, Xu Xi recounts the history of Hong Kong in today's voice. Her stories showcase the tension between the East-West relationships and the ambivalent feelings of Hong Kong people during post-colonialism and handover. ...read more.


Atmosphere I would describe the initial atmosphere of this story as fatalistic because no matter you look forward to the handover like the customers at the private club, or you are not indifferent to it like Uncle Cheuk, we cannot change the fact. It is inevitable that Hong Kong would return to our motherland from 1st July 1997. We have to accept this because this is the fate of Hong Kong. When Lam Yam Kuen recalls his memory about the rabbit on the moon, the atmosphere is nostalgic. He seems to yearn for his childhood, especially the time he stays with Uncle Cheuk. It may reflect that some Hong Kong people are still sentimentally attached to the British Colonial Government before 1997. At the end of the story, the atmosphere turns to optimistic because Lam Yam Kuen finally see the rabbit on the moon. It may reflect that Hong Kong people should be optimistic too. We should wait patiently for our "rabbit", which may be interpreted as economic recovery or reappearance of stability and prosperity because Hong Kong has been under economic recession at the time when this book is published. Leit motif Leit motif refers to a phrase or other features that is repeated frequently in a work of literature and tells the readers something important about it. ...read more.


We may also interpret from another point of view. Hong Kong is now lack of people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others, just like the rabbit and Lam's mother. Nevertheless, we should be patient because if we give up in frustration, the cat which can catch mice will never appear. In short, Xu Xi encourages Hong Kong people to be tenacious and sanguine of Hong Kong future through this story. At the end of the story, Xu Xi describes that the Chacko family leaves when the firework is displaying. It may reflect that some western people in Hong Kong are similar to Uncle Cheuk, i.e. they are not interested in the handover. It does not affect them whether Hong Kong is a colony of Britain or a special administrative region of China. Conclusion To conclude, I think Xu Xi is successful to show the paradox of Hong Kong people over handover. On the one hand, we should be glad of it because we finally reunite with our motherland after about hundred years of colonial governance. On the other hand, we may feel little apprehension over the Chinese government. We may not be confident enough on the policy of "one country, two systems." Some other people, or even the majority, are similar to Uncle Cheuk, i.e. they are unconcerned about politics. ...read more.

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