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The Literary Role of Setting in Books 'A Pair of Tickets' and 'Volar'

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Usually authors use setting to portray certain feelings which is brought on by the character’s surroundings, The setting of a story gives us a better understanding to the characters involved in the story. The setting also gives us knowledge of why the characters behave as they do. The setting in Amy Tan’s “A Pair of Tickets” and Judith Cofer “Volar” explores the themes of culture and ethnic identity, to give us better understanding of the feelings and actions of the characters. We have a better understanding of the character’s relationship with the setting. Both of these stories have many similarities and many differences. 

These stories use symbolism and distinctive setting to portray the lives, and the feeling of two young girls that originated from a different cultural background. The stories use similar styles of setting to describe two different problems these girls face by who they are and what they face. Amy Tan’s “ A Pair of Tickets” explores the relationship of setting to place, heritage, and ethnic identity. The main character Jing-Mei is having trouble accepting that she is Chinese, despite her heritage. Growing up in California, she became accustomed to the American culture and their way of living. The Author states “When I was fifteen and had vigorously denied that I had any Chinese whatsoever below my skin” even her Caucasian friends agreed that she ‘was as Chinese as they were.’ Jing-Mei finally realizes that she has never really known what it means to be Chinese because she was born and has lived in America all her life, travels to China for the first time. Although she can understand the language, she can’t speak it all that well, which further separates her from her heritage. 

However, “Volar” is about a family of immigrants that are living in America, The little girl whose named is unsaid in the story has her version of the American dream. Unlike, “A pair of Tickets” the little girl from this story wants to fit in. The Main character has a hard time fitting in and struggles with looking different from everyone else. To escape reality, the little girl would dream she was “Supergirl” she states “My legs would grow long, my arms hardened into steel, and my hair would magically go straight and turn a golden color. Of course, I would and the bonus of breasts, but not too large”. The young girl would even mention that she recalls that she would wake up in her tiny bedroom, she also states she would find herself back into the body “My tight curls still clinging to my head, skinny arms and legs and flat chest unchanged”. The detailed setting of this story helps give a better understanding of why the narrator wants to escape and go to the place they know. 

Both “A Pair of Tickets” and “Volar” display the main character’s struggles of what it is like to live in America and not be fully American. In “Volar” The daughter would always wish she could “fly”. Flying is the fastest way to get to where you need to go, therefore flying in “Volar” represents of an escape the little girl wants to go back to Puerto Rico the place she knows where she would fit in. In “A Pair of Tickets” when Jing-Mei arrives Guangzhou the landscape is described as grey but as the story continues the scenery slowly changes, as well as the narrator. “A Pair of Tickets’ represents Jing-Mei journey of self-discovery. 

To summarize, the two stories use detailed settings to describe their point of views of what it’s like originating from another country. “Volar” is a story of a young immigrant wanting to “fly’, so she can go back home and be around the people and culture she fits in with. “A Pair of Tickets” is a story of a Chinese lady who was born in America discovering a part of her life she didn’t want to accept. With the help of her family that lives Guangzhou, she soon begins to embrace her culture. 

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The Literary Role of Setting in Books ‘A Pair of Tickets’ and ‘Volar’. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from
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