Paper - Summary | Major English Grade XI

Calherine Lim

Paper

Paper is written by famous Singaporean woman Catherin Lim. Catherine explores the greed towards easy money making and how it leads city people to the tragic result.

Tay Soon and Yee Lian are main characters of the story. They belong to middle class family and they have strong ambition to buy a well-managed building with all perfection. They dreamt of beautiful house having marble floors, oval shaped sitting rooms and a fantastic swimming pool. They both share their plan to all the family members including Yee Yeng, Yee Lian's sister but mother of Tay Soon didn't pay any attention or concern to them. She was engaged in her traditional profession, i.e, vegetable business. She was completely contained and happy. She also suggested them not to keep such dream but for Tay Soon. it was not only dream. He thought it could be fulfilled if he handled the money appropriately because he had saved 40,000 in bank.

In that period, Tay was attracted to share market because share price was rising. So, he invested his 30,000 at risk in share market. Fortunately, he was able to make $100,000 within short period of time. At that time, he proudly told his mother that he was able to buy 50 houses like mother's. He further was excited towards the share and invested more money. But unfortunately, the value of share began to fall rapidly. There was no any device to control the declining. He invested all amount of money. Few remaining money was also invested in last attempt but it was also in despair. His hope of building modern house was broken into pieces. He himself broke physically. He left eating and started beating his wife and children. His condition was worse and worse and he was admitted in hospital. At last, it was mother who ordered a beautiful paper house somewhere in the market to satisfy his son. At last, Tay Soon was dead and paper house was put on his dead body and they both were burnt together and turned into ashes.

This story is giving satire on the ambition of young generation in Singapore who are crazy for material gratification. The structure of story is divided into three parts - opening, climax, and anti-climax. In opening, we can see Tay Soon and his strong aspiration to have modern house. In the climax, we can observe his excessive greed towards money hoarding. The anti-climax is a total ruin of Tay Soon due to the greed for paper in this story. "Paper" stands for many things such as plain paper, money, etc. The growth of the value of paper means their success in matter. In this story, "Paper" denotes bank, cash, share, certificate, prosperity, game, etc. And on the other hand, it also indicates Tay Soon's ambition, effort, sleeplessness, broken and deserted. And lastly "Paper" also stands for material success and failure both. "Generation Gap" between young and old is also shown in the story. The feeling of Tay Soon is taken lightly by his mother and feeling of mother is taken lightly by son.

Important Questions Solutions:

1: What type of house did Tay Soon dream of buying? [2059]
Ans: Tay Soon dreamed of buying a house with all the facilities similar to those that were advertised in the glossy pages of magazines. He had a dream of a beautiful house of his own, the best one; with aluminum sliding doors, kidney shaped swimming pool, sunken circular sitting room, timbered ceiling, panelled walls, marble flooring, and amber carpeting.

2: What role does Tay Soon’s wife play in contributing to the entire disaster? [2062/ 63 /64 ]
Ans: Tay Soon’s wife played a major role for his downfall and the entire disaster. She was a woman who also had a passion for a beautiful house. She used to describe the dream house of her husband to her sister. She talked endlessly about the dream house with her husband. She even criticized the house of her mother-in-law. It was his wife Yee Lian who first gave suggestion to put their money in the share market. She was excited when the shares rose. She even asked her mother-in-law to buy some shares. When their shares started falling, her husband asked her if they should sell the shares, she refused it saying that the decline was only a temporary one. When the share market started falling, she even advised him to put all the remaining shares into the OHTE and West Parkes. These two markets crashed. Tay Soon went mad and later died of this shock. Thus Tay Soon’s wife can be considered as the important agent who brought the entire tragedy.

3: To what extent are Tay Soon and his wife and the children caught up in the idea of buying a magnificent dream house? How does the elaborate nature of the house symbolize the peak of Tay Soon's achievement?
Ans: Tay Soon, his wife and the children are caught up in the idea of buying a magnificent dream house. Tay Soon had an intense passion of owing the beautiful dream house. He talked very much about it and his wife and children equally liked it too. In his mind, there is nothing except the idea of buying dream house and he directed all his energies and passions towards his dream. He and his family were thinking that the dream house was more real than the mother's house where they were living. When there was a downfall of share price, his dream was proved to be false. Thus he became mad and finally died. His wife and children were equally involved in that idea which they described with their friends and family.
Tay Soon's dream house was very elaborate and splendid and his ambition is also very great. Though he had saved 40,000 dollar, it was not enough amount to buy the house. Hence, the elaborate nature of the house symbolizes the peak of this achievement.
 
4: How does Catherine Lim establish that Tay Soon's mother is indifferent to and even critical of their dream house?
Answer: In this story 'Paper', Catherine Lim describes that the Tay Soon's mother was a very busy woman. She was running her own business of selling bottled curries and vegetable jam. Actually she had no time for dreams and she would make sarcastic remarks about the ambition of young people. Tay Soon's wife was very conscious the fact that her mother-in-law would know about their dreams while talking with her sister. Tay Soon's mother wanted to know what was wrong with the house they were staying in. Also she did not accept their fact that marble flooring and swimming pool were the great things and she considered those all things were only show off.

5: How does Catherine Lim feel towards her characters?
Ans: Catherine Lim presents three main characters in the story "Paper". Tay Soon, Tay Soon's Wife Yee Lain and his mother. Catherine's attitudes towards Tay Soon and his wife Yee Lain is a very sarcastic because she presents them as the prey of their own passion for easy money. They are not practical people and always run after their magnificent dream of buying a beautiful house. They are happy and excited when they progress when the consequences are contrary to their thought, they can't control themselves. So the writer Catherine Lim presents that the tragic ends of such ambitious people.
In another side, Catherine Lim wanted to convey her message through the character Tay Soon's mother. So, we can say she is the mouthpiece of writer. She is very busy in her own business and does not run after the flowery dreams. She is not over ambitious and is satisfied with what she has. She finally fulfills her son's desire of dream house in his funeral.
Question No. 4: Why doesn't Tay Soon sell his shares and capitalize on his first remarkable gains instead of staying in the market? What is Tay Soon's nature makes him his own worst enemy?
Answer: Tay Soon was extremely passionate for the easy money to buy a magnificent/beautiful house of his dream. He did not have enough money to afford the cost of such big house. He could buy a dream house and take benefit of his first gain after he earned lot of money in the share markets. But his greed prevented him to do so. He heard the rumours of double and triple benefit in the share market and ran after the rumours only. He was trapped in the maize of his own greed and became his worst enemy. If he had sold the shares and capitalized his gain instead of staying in the market, he wouldn't have faced the tragic end.

6: What role does Tay Soon's wife play in contributing to the entire disaster?
Answer: Tay Soon's wife Yee Lian plays very great role bringing the entire disaster in the family. Tay Soon had only dreamt of owing a beautiful house but his wife tempted him to invest money in the share markets. He invested huge sum of money because of his wife suggestions and earned a lot till the share market was popular. Suddenly, share market price went down slowly. At that time Tay Soon wanted to sell the shares but his wife did not let him sell thinking that the fall was technical and the price would soon be recovered. Finally, he sold the shares when the price was decreased to the lowest point. According to his wife's advice, he put the money in OTHE and West Parks. OTHE and West Parks also failed shortly and Tay Soon went mad. At last, he died of shock.

7: How does the recurrent mention of the word paper focus the reader's attention to one of the story's central themes?
Answer: Well, shares in Stock Exchange Companies are sometimes called PAPER. People say they have money on paper when they have shares but not cash. The frequent use of word PAPER focuses the reader's attention in realizing the fact that money in paper is merely PAPER, not CASH. The value of paper is just the supposed value which cannot be obtained in reality.

8: Analyze the structure of the story, and follow its development through the four separate scenes of ever-rising tension and final resolution.
Ans: The story "PAPER" can be divided into four separate parts. The first part of the story exposes the problem. Tay Soon is not satisfied with his mother's house where he is staying and dreams of a magnificent house. Finally, this insatiable dream becomes the cause of his own destruction.

In the second part, Tay Soon stands with the idea of earning easy money from share market. He earns a lot from share market but the more he earns the more he wants to earn which we can say the main cause of development of his problem.

In third part, the story reaches it's climax. Tay Soon's condition become worse when the share market starts to go down. He cannot take firm decision at this point and follows the false hope continuously. The ambitious dream and false hope leads the tragic end of Tay Soon's family.

The fourth part provides the solution of Tay Soon's problem. His dream buying a big house is not fulfilled and faced a tragic end. At last, after Tay Soon's death, his mother fulfilled his dream by constructing a miniature paper house that looked exactly the same as his dream house.

9: How does the miniature paper house that Tay Soon's mother has constructed for him after death contrast ironically to the magnificent dream house Tay Soon had envisioned? How does the contrast of these two houses dramatize the story's central theme?
Ans: Tay Soon and his family except his mother had a dream of having magnificent beautiful house with kidney shaped swimming pool and timbered ceiling. Initially he was not able to afford the dream house but later when he earned a lot from share market, his dream house became more magnificent than the usual one. And again it became beyond his reach. This is the great irony of fate that the hope is never fulfilled. 
On the other hand, his dream is fulfilled after his death when his mother constructed a miniature paper house that looked exactly the same as his dream house. Ironically, there is a great contrast between these two houses. The dream house is very magnificent but the paper house is miniature in size though it looked exactly the same. The contrast of these two houses dramatizes the central theme of the story. The magnificence of the dream house symbolizes the dream while miniature size of the paper house clearly symbolizes the achievement. The desires can be fulfilled only in the lowest level.

10: Describe the characters of (a) Tay Soon and (b) Tay Soon's mother.
Ans: (a) Tay Soon:- Tay Soon is a person obsessed with the idea of money. He has a dream of buying a big house, which in reality, he cannot buy. He is an obstinate person and firm in his decision. He is victim of his own insatiable desire for easy money. He is very impractical man and does not think of the consequences before doing something. He has a great material thirst which is not appeased till the end of his life. Finally he died of the dream unfulfilled.

(b) Tay Soon's mother:- Tay Soon's mother is a very practical woman. She runs a small business of selling bottled curries and vegetable jam which she made herself. She had no dream of buying the big house like that of Toy Soon and his wife Yee Lain. She would make sarcastic remarks on their ambition. She was satisfied with the house she was living in.

 

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