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The of Salt - Book Report/Review Example

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Truong presents this through the use of figurative language such as understatement, hyperbole, and metonymy.
Monique Truong tackles a story of a Vietnamese cook who was displaced forcedly in Paris in a 1934 setting. She uses the famous literary lesbian couple Alice Toklas and Gertrude Stein as a background for depicting this tale. Two narrative threads are flowing in the novel. In the first, chef Binh relates his present life at 27 rue de Fleurus along with the details of how he got himself in the household. In the second, Binh recounts his life in Vietnam and the reasons that made him leave the country and step on Parisian soil.
The novel tries to establish a link between Binh's past and that of his present. It depicts tones about Binh's difference on social status and skin color from that of the rest of French society. Truong makes Binh accept his forced servitude in order to suggest some elements of racial exploitation. This acceptance may already be present even when he was living a miserable life in Vietnam when he was abused by his father. Through the figure of Binh, Truong explores the important issues of faith, hope, abuse, love, and exile prevalent throughout the novel.
The Book of Salt depicts race, language, nationality, and colonialism whose interrelatedness suggests linkage necessary to understand social enigma. The ethnic and racial discrimination experienced by a Vietnamese cook in the person of Binh is supported by the use of language for the readers to see how they work in a nutshell. The book contains themes of ethnic, national, and racial inequalities, as well foreign colonization hidden in the usage of the words. Truong used Binh's background and relates it to the present to show how ethnic inequalities persist, as well as French imperialism through socioeconomic difficulties experienced by him. By focusing on the complexity of power relations embodied in these socioeconomic difficulties, one would see the existence of these inequalities.
The Book of Salt tells the story of Binh who needs to decide whether to travel with his employers Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas to the United States, remain in France, or return to Vietnam. There are certain parts of the novel suggestive of racial dominance and inequality. Language appears to be the reflections of this dominance, in which the language of the dominant group is regarded as superior than the dominated culture, where the very people of the dominated group themselves succumb to this fact.
This domination found in the novel through language is seen in the statement below:
"Minh the Sous Chef, as the Old Man had renamed him, had told us how the French never tired of debating why the Indochinese of a certain class are never able to master the difficulties, the subtleties, the winged eloquence, of ...Show more


This paper aims to explore the figurative language and narrative structures of The Book of Salt. Particularly, it shall attempt to see the different patterns of ethnic / race relations presented, imagined, and critiqued in the novel and how they relate to the question of national identity…
Author : lindjoanie
The Book of Salt
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