Look At The Tea Cup
Summary of Look At The Tea Cup:
The essay, “Look At The Tea Cup” was written by Patricia Hampl.
In this essay, the writer reads her mother’s history in a delicate tea cup.
The tea cup described in the essay was bought by the writer’s mother, in 1939, when she got married with an American Czech. Later on, it was given to writer as a souvenir. The tea cup has become so thin that the level of tea in it can be easily measured from outside. There are the pictures of different flowers, printed in the inner wall of the tea cup. They seem to be falling to the bottom from different heights. They change their color in the morning tea. Above the tea level there are green leaves and blue flowers. There are golden circles around the edge in the middle and at the bottom of the tea cup. There is a stamp of Czechoslovakia at the bottom of the tea cup. The flowers don’t look real but looks like a replica of memory itself.
When the writer looks at a tea cup, she is reminded of many events from her mother’s life. She remembers her mother telling her that family is more important for a girl than her job. She remembers the romantic scene between her father and mother. She also remembers her mother telling her that she had been given to write an essay on the importance of Hitler for Germany. When she remembers Hitler she is reminded of Second World War and its effect.
The writer says that many things fell in the year 1939. Bombs fell on to innocent people unexpectedly from the sky. The newly married girls fell on to their beds paired with their husbands. When their husband died in the battle field, the faith of the people on marriage fell. Similarly, the faith of the people on the humanity, brotherhood, the god fell for the first time. Though, many things were destroyed by the war, the tea cup, a small finger was saved from the destructive fire of the Second World War.
The writer finds herself very much different from her mother. Her mother was quite optimistic towards the future, whereas the writer herself is quite pessimistic. Her mother gave importance to family, whereas, she gives more importance to work. Her mother was not conscious about her health and used to spend her most of the time smoking cigarettes, whereas, the writer doesn’t smoke. Her mother bought what she needed only after her marriage but the writer is buying these goods before marriage. These differences between earlier generation and new generation were caused by the Second World War.
In this essay the writer also talks about mother-daughter relationship. The writer says that a mother has to play the role of a friend and a teacher beside, the role of a mother. It is the mother who understands gender specific problems of her daughter because she has already gone through them. It is again the mother alone who teaches her daughter about family values, traditions and good behavior.
Finally, the writer talks about the importance of souvenir. When the things like tea cup are handed down from old generation to new generation, they bridge the gap between two generations and keep the history alive. By giving the teacup to the writer, her mother wanted her to continue the old traditions and values but the writer doesn’t want to continue the stale traditions and values because her faith on them has been shattered by the Second World War.
Some Important Questions of Look At TheTea Cup:
Question. Explain “The cup is a detail, a small uncharred finger from the mid-century bonfire.”
Answer. The teacup described in the essay, “Look At The Tea Cup” was bought by writers’ mother in 1939 when the world war second was started principally between the Allies power and Axis power. The war engulfed the life of 55 million people and similar number of live stocks. It also ruined millions of houses and other infrastructures. Metaphorically, it destroyed the whole hand but luckily the teacup, a small finger was saved from the destructive fire of the Second World War. Though small in size, the teacup reflects artistic, political and social aspects of Czechoslovakia in particular and that of Europe in general. The teacup lets us know about the writer, her mother, and their relationship and family values. Therefore, the tea cup is a detail, a small un-burnt finger saved from the Second World War.
Question. What do you mean by “Many things fell that year”?
Answer. “Many things fell that year” refers to the loss of lives, devastations of infrastructures and degeneration of art, culture and human values. Bombs fell on innocent peoples talking the life of 55 million people and similar number of houses and life stocks. The newly married girls fell onto their beds paired with their husbands losing the preserved virginity. When the newly married girls losed their husbands in the battle fields, they no longer believed in marriage. When they saw a human being killing another hey no longer believed on humanity and brotherhood. When they saw the god doing nothing to save them, they no longer believed on god. As a result, the faith of the people on marriage, humanity, brotherhood and the god fell for the first time and forever.
Thus, the flowers falling into the teacup symbolize all those things that fell in 1939.