Theresa Cha's novel, Dictee, bears similarities to her own autobiography. Born in Korea in during the 1950s, she and her family were victims of the Korean War. Her family moved constantly, from Korea to Hawaii, from Hawaii to Northern California. During her stay in the United States, she studied at an all girls Catholic school. All of these bits of information contribute to her novel Dictee, which carries a theme of dislocation and fragmentation. In the opening pages of the novel, we see how Cha divides this novel into nine sections. We see the use of French and English; on some pages, there are words written in Japanese. Keeping in mind Cha's immigrant status, the incorporation of fragments and the variety of forms she chooses to include (whether it be journal entries, letters, news articles, photographs) in the novel focus on not merely a geographical dislocation, but also on a cultural and societal disconnect.
The first 59 pages for Monday's class include a collection of stories of Korean women during the time of the Korean revolution. From the inception, Cha uses the repetition of phases of "pain to speak," "pain to say" and "pain of speech." Throughout the stories Cha recalls, there is a limitation in the freedom of speech and the choice of one's language. How does the structure of the novel play a role in emphasizing the speaker's struggle of speech?
Similarly, on page 7 and page 11, she poses a similar quote but removes the words muse, goddesses, and daughter of Zeus. Throughout this first section we read, there are excerpts from the Bible yet she titles her nine segments with a Greek mythology character or Greek muses. What can we make of this?