Reading between the lines is a vital skill for every reader. Thomas C. Foster suggests that one should think more broadly. He explains the need for readers to analyze literary work, to recognize patterns used by the author as well as to apply symbolism. One should look beyond what the story may deem to portray. The Palmist, a story by Andrew Lam, clearly supports this idea. The main character asserted that reading palms is not like map reading; it entails deeper feeling and understanding of what lies beyond the palm lines (Andrew Lam, 163). It means that there is more than what the eyes can see. Being able to read between the lines, explain symbolism, and identify patterns used by the author, as outlined by Thomas Foster, can be helpful in analyzing and discussing Andrew Lam’s short story The Palmist.
The palmist could only remember his first kiss and children’s laughter when the images of rice fields, oxen, and egrets came to him. A first kiss is a memorable moment one can never fail to cherish. It brings forth ones’ naivety, innocence, and desire for adventure. It symbolizes hope, happiness and joy on his way. He came to meet two young men whose future he foresaw to be bright. When the teenager inquired whether the palmist could read his own future, the latter was fast to answer that he could only read prosperity and good things for himself. People always wish to be successful in life. It would be quite weird for one to foresee the worst coming his way. Although his wife and son drowned in the sea while escaping Vietnam War, he managed to survive. He made it through the way. It portrays the wishes for success and long life.
The youth always portrays a future and hope ahead. The palmist likened the teenager to his son. As we know, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. It took some time to convince the teenager to allow him to read his palm. He stated that he did not believe in such intuitions. He was quite inquisitive before a fat lady encouraged him. It is typical of all young people. They are full of energy, ready to learn and are not gullible. They prefer experiments and tested facts to fiction. The teenager, who was seating at the bench previously occupied by the palmist, could figure out mixed reactions from the drawings he came up with. The gleam of sadness in his eyes, as the boat crowded with people was overwhelmed by high waves, could symbolize a bad occurrence. However, he got something to smile about when the road was glowing like a golden river. It clearly symbolized that there was hope in his destiny. The jet plane soaring and blinking indicated danger ahead. He could visualize people flying across oceans, seas, and continents looking forward to mysterious destinies. It was a symbolization of what the palmist went through. His family was trying to escape the war in Vietnam, and did not manage to make it with him to the United States of America as he already occupies a different life and profession. Unsurprisingly, his destiny after moving through many continents became what the teenager foresaw.
.Success comes only with hard work. The writing on the T-shirt of the second teenager â€œPLAY HARDâ€¦..STAY HARDâ€ clearly outlines this perception. It was later confirmed by the palmist that the teenager had a successful future ahead in art, in case he could forge ahead and make the right decisions. The teenager, an addict of graphics and movies, could only think of how his line of interest would make him earn great. He was also told of how he would really change in his mid twenties. It is an indication of transition from one level to another. It takes time for growth and development to take place, be it a business, a plan, an idea or even a human being. It was to the palmist’s wish that the teenager chose the right path, though it may never be easy. He also encouraged him not to give up whenever his life got tough but to keep on persisting. Life is a journey and only the brave can handle it.
The palmist kept on repeating the word â€˜alone’ in two settings of the story. It symbolizes the loneliness he felt as he had lost his family. His companionship was the people he read their future and the passengers in the bus. The second teenager kept on arching his eyebrows showing his level of astonishment and anxiety to know his future. He also felt as if he had been caught up inside a greenhouse that was moving. Trying to imagine how a moving greenhouse would feel, will make one understand the situation in which the teenager was entangled. It shows that he was stuck. He could not move in any notable direction. His life was in misery as earlier the palmist had foreseen how at one point in his life things would not be as he wishes. However, he had hope as there is oxygen in the greenhouse, and furthermore, it was moving. He could breath and even feed. He was also turning into one of the most conspicuous plants in the greenhouse (Andrew Lam, 166). It creates scenery of hope and fame. It symbolizes light at the end of the tunnel. The palmist’s old age has been illustrated by the use of the wrinkles.
The short storygives insight on how people have various skills and talents lying within them. It takes a third eye to discover. On the other hand, Thomas Foster gives insight on how one should think beyond his nose when reading literature and try to decipher what the author wanted to pass across. He also paves way for one to add to his own bias in understanding literature. Flexibility in learning and perception of literature work is vital in the educational process.