Maxine Hone Kingston’s chapter in The Fifth Book of Peace “Water” isn’t so much a chapter as a book. The fourth book of peace, if you believe her. (Which isn’t unreasonable, but some are more skeptical of mysticism than others.) By mixing the tail end of hippie culture into the seemingly ancient Hawaiian notion of aloha and ‘aina, along with many other cultural references along similar lines, Kingston creates a milieu of philosophies, emplaced and imposed upon a poor community of renters. Each sees the world through the veil of their philosophy, Witman and Taña through their hippie culture, their impressions of Hawaii from the haole (foreigner) perspective. The natives through the nearly lost philosophy of aloha, the immigrants, the ‘transplanted natives,’ through the eyes of their own culture, and through the eyes of the ‘new’ aloha; take what isn’t given, because they don’t know how to give. In the class discussion, it was mentioned that Kingston had tried to find a “happy ending” for the book and failed to do so. That one could find hhappinessin such duplicitous and hollow people and places as the Ah Sing’s attempted to do seems almost absurd given the above description. Even the provided ending seems to only increase their self-deception of the greater purpose, of aloha and ‘aina, and their place within it. They come to see their place only by creating a world where they have one.
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