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Love in the Air

The phrase “love is in the air,” takes a very literal connotation in Ha Jin’s creation of the relationship between Kang and Lili. But we never get any sort of perspective from Lili so it seems to be an entirely one sided relationship. The tone of the story almost seemed comical, but in an unintentional way. The description of Kang’s “froggy eyes,” and his “square thumbs,” adds to his innocence and his child-like, naive behavior. He truly has no concept of intimacy or of flirtation, or even of women in general. The description of what Lili might look like through Kang’s eyes and his back and forth inner dialogue about women adds to his boyish cluelessness. He only describes already unattainable celebrities, and he tries to reason with himself, but comes to the same conclusion: none are as good as Lili. I found these comparisons funny because Kang doesn’t know these women either, in fact he might know more about the woman through the transmitter.

Kang also seems to be somewhat irrational and melodramatic, he even admits to himself that “he hated his own listless voice.” He becomes winey and ridden with anxiety, all over a woman he has only heard and not seen. I found the ending of the story to be somewhat abrupt but not necessarily surprising. Kang describes Shi Wei as a strapping and wealthy young man; stiff competition for scraggly Kang. But Wei’s relationship with Lili has nothing to do with his appearance, he is simply more forward. Collectively, I found the story to be odd and interesting. Kang is an incredibly emotional character, overwhelmed with what he believes to be “love,” but is essentially left in a position of despair and confusion.

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