We will write a custom Essay on Ken Liu’s “Good Hunting” and The Perfect Match specifically for you
301 certified writers online
The two short stories by Ken Liu, Good Hunting, and The Perfect Match, are excellent examples of the use of defamiliarization techniques. However, the way that the author uses defamiliarization differs substantially between the two works.
Whereas The Perfect Match presents us with unfamiliar concepts right from the beginning, defamiliarizing in Good Hunting develops gradually throughout the story, presenting unfamiliar concepts after the reader is drawn to believe that he or she knows where the story is going. This essay aims to explore the elements of defamiliarization that are evident in the two works and to summarize the points to show how the use of this technique differs in the stories.
The Perfect Match
The first story is full of elements of estrangement. Here, Liu presents us with an idea of a perfect future world, where everything is easier, including building relationships with people. Relationships, such as love and friendship, are one of the major focus points of the story. The dating sounds a lot easier than it is in our society: the people that the AI chooses to set up are “compatible” (Liu, The Perfect Match 5), which means that there are always shared interest to talk about and similar views on life and work to discuss.
Reviews from previous girlfriends or boyfriends are available online (Liu, The Perfect Match 5), and the AI can even estimate the length of relationship before the two people meet (Liu, The Perfect Match 1). The friendship is defamiliarized, too. Sai does not discuss his relationships with co-workers or family; instead, he dwells on the memory of how the AI comforted him after a breakup (Liu, The Perfect Match 1) and how he fully trusts the technologies (Liu, The Perfect Match 5). Comfort and trust are the features of friendship; however, in the story, they are twisted: the trust is abused, and the comfort no longer brings happiness to the character after he first turns off the AI.
The re-familiarization of relationship occurs later in the story, as the AI no longer dictates the character what to do and say. This process is estranged for the character but familiar to us: “He couldn’t count on Tilly to have made sure ahead of time that they would have topics to talk about. He couldn’t rely on Tilly’s always apropos suggestions when he was at a loss for words. He couldn’t even count on being able to look up Jenny’s ShareAll profile” (Liu, The Perfect Match 14). Lui uses a relationship scheme that is familiar to the reader to increase the contrast between the world of the story and our world. This makes the reader emphasize with the character, and the ending of the story reinforces our reality in a way that makes us wonder if we rely on technologies to much and whether or not our fate is just as inevitable as Sai’s.
Despite being set in a fictional world with spirits and ghost-hunters, Good Hunting does not seem unfamiliar to the reader at the beginning. A fantasy world where father and son hunt demons, spirits, and ghosts are a popular setting. The seemingly familiar beginning of the story has a strong effect on the audience, as we start to feel that we can predict what will happen next. However, the story takes a surprising turn as the main character becomes friends with one of the spirits that he and his father used to hunt: “We’d been meeting every Qingming, every Chongyang, every Yulan, every New Year’s, occasions when families were supposed to be together” (Liu, Good Hunting 3).
From this point, the elements of estrangement appear more often. The most important element of defamiliarization in Good Hunting is magic. We learn that many kinds of magical creatures exist in the character’s world and that the lives of people depend heavily on the magic contained in the soil. While the vast part of our society does not believe in spirits and magic, these are the elements of the character’s world, and we soon become accustomed to them. This has a strong effect on our point of view: when the British businessmen come to the village to start building a railroad, we begin seeing industrialization as unfamiliar and evil. Therefore, by offering elements of estrangement and familiarizing the reader with them, the author emphasizes the main conflict behind the story: the opposition of people and nature.
Overall, the two stories present two different ways of using defamiliarization in literature. In The Perfect Match, defamiliarization is used to establish a comparison between our society and the world of the story, which emphasizes the author’s message. In Good Hunting, on the other hand, the readers are familiarized with what they initially perceive as elements of estrangement; this prompts the reader to empathize with the characters and draws attention to the problem of human impact on the planet and nature.
The hardest part in writing this essay was gathering materials from the texts. Particularly in Good Hunting, it was difficult to determine the elements of estrangement due to the fantasy setting. The easiest part, on the other hand, was understanding the effects of defamiliarization. I believe that my essay offers a thorough analysis of the author’s use of the technique. However, I think that I could work on providing more examples from the texts to support the argument. The question that I would like to ask the reader is, “Why do you think the use of defamiliarization is different in the two works?” because I want to explore the topic further and to hear a different point of view.
Liu, Kim. Good Hunting. 2017.
—. The Perfect Match. 2017.