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Aufgabe 2

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Outline the sequence of events at the hotel as described in the excerpt.
Analyze how the author characterizes Reginald Ormsby. Give evidence from the text.
Choose one of the following three tasks:
"Where are we supposed to go at this hour?" Eleanor asked. "Perhaps some place in Chinatown?" Ormsby sniffed. These foreigners had wasted enough of his time.
Explain the quotation. Assess the role prejudice plays in everyday life and its potential impact on people who are victims of prejudice. Refer to the text and to your knowledge about the issue.
Compare the situation faced by Eleanor Young and her family with that of another character from literature or film who is also confronted with rejection. Assess the way they cope.
Eleanor Young writes a letter of complaint to the owner of the hotel in which she comments on the way she and her family were treated and the effect it had on them.
Write this letter and address it to:
Calthorpe Hotel
Scarsdale Place
London, W8 5SR
Great Britain
Material 1
Excerpt from the novel
Kevin Kwan - Crazy Rich Asians
Nicholas Young slumped into the nearest seat in the hotel lobby, drained from the sixteen- hour flight from Singapore, the train ride from Heathrow Airport, and trudging through the rain-soaked streets. His cousin Astrid Leong shivered stoically next to him […].
Anyone else happening upon the scene might have noticed an unusually composed eight- year-old boy and
an ethereal[1] wisp of a girl sitting quietly in a corner, but all Reginald Ormsby saw from his desk overlooking the lobby were two little Chinese children staining the damask settee with their sodden coats. And it only got worse from there. Three Chinese women stood nearby, frantically blotting themselves dry with tissues, while a teenager slid wildly across the lobby, his sneakers leaving muddy tracks on the black-and- white checkerboard marble.
Ormsby rushed downstairs from the mezzanine[2], knowing he could more efficiently dispatch these foreigners than his front-desk clerks. "Good evening, I am the general manager. Can I help you?" he said slowly, over-enunciating every word. "Yes, good evening, we have a reservation," the woman replied in perfect English. Ormsby peered at her in surprise. "What name is it under?"
"Eleanor Young and family."
Ormsby froze – he recognized the name, especially since the Young party had booked the Lancaster Suite. But who could have imagined that "Eleanor Young" would turn out to be Chinese, and how on earth did she end up here? […] The Dowager Marchioness of Uckfield[3] was staying through the weekend, and he could scarcely imagine what she would make of these folk appearing at breakfast tomorrow. He made a swift decision. "I’m terribly sorry, but I can’t seem to find a booking under that name."
"Are you sure?" Eleanor asked in surprise.
"Quite sure." Ormsby grinned tightly.
Felicity Leong joined her sister-in-law at the front desk. "Is there a problem?" she asked impatiently, eager to get to the room to dry her hair.
"Alamak[4], they can't find our reservation," Eleanor sighed. […]
She turned back to the manager. "Sir, can you please check again? I reconfirmed our reservation just two days ago. We're supposed to be in your largest suite."
"Yes, I know you booked the Lancaster Suite, but I can't find your name anywhere," Ormsby insisted.
"Excuse me, but if you know we booked the Lancaster Suite, why don't we have the room?" Felicity asked, confused.
Bloody hell. Ormsby cursed at his own slip-up. "No, no, you misunderstood. What I meant was that you might think you booked the Lancaster Suite, but I certainly can't find any record of it." He turned away for a moment, pretending to rummage through some other paperwork.
Felicity leaned over the polished oak counter and pulled the leather-bound reservations book toward her, flipping through pages. "Look! It says right here 'Mrs. Eleanor Young - Lancaster Suite for four nights.' Do
you not see this?"
"Madam! That is PRIVATE!" Ormsby snapped in fury, startling his two junior clerks, who glanced uncomfortably at their manager.
Felicity peered at the balding, red-faced man, the situation suddenly becoming abundantly clear. She hadn’t seen this particular brand of superior sneer since she was a child growing up in the waning[5] days of
colonial Singapore, and she thought this kind of overt racism had ceased to exist. "Sir," she said politely but firmly, "this hotel came highly recommended to us by Mrs. Mince, the wife of the Anglican Bishop of Singapore, and I clearly saw our name in your registry book. I don’t know what sort of funny business is going on, but we have traveled a very long way and our children are tired and cold. I insist that you honor our reservation."
Ormsby was indignant. How dare this Chinese woman with the Thatcheresque[6] perm and preposterous "English" accent speak to him in such a manner? "I'm afraid we simply do not have anything available," he declared.
"Are you telling me that there are no rooms left in this entire hotel?" Eleanor said incredulously.
"Yes," he replied curtly.
"Where are we supposed to go at this hour?" Eleanor asked.
"Perhaps someplace in Chinatown?" Ormsby sniffed. These foreigners had wasted enough of his time.
Felicity went back to where her younger sister Alexandra Cheng stood guarding the luggage. "Finally! I can't wait to take a hot bath," Alexandra said eagerly.
"Actually, this odious man is refusing to give us our room!" Felicity said, making no attempt to hide her fury.
"What? Why?" Alexandra asked, completely confused.
"I think it has something to do with us being Chinese," Felicity said […].
Source: Kwan, Kevin. Crazy Rich Asians. New York: Anchor Books, 2014, 3-6.

[1] ethereal: delicate, of heavenly quality
[2] mezzanine: small floor between two stories in a building
[3] Dowager Marchioness of Uckfield: widowed member of a noble English family
[4] Alamak: exclamation in South-East Asia: Oh, no! / Oh, my God!
[5] waning: here: the last
[6] Thatcheresque: reminding one of Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister 1979-1990
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Outline sequence of events
  • an Asian family from Singapore has travelled long distances in the rain to arrive at an elaborate hotel in London
  • general manager Reginald Ormsby sees those travellers and decides that he has dispatch them
  • is surprised when they answer in perfect English
  • family had booked the Lancaster suite - Ormsby is surprised about that
  • Ormsby thinks that he can't let them stay at the hotel, also due to the fact that some noblewoman staying there would apparently be disagreeing with seeing "Chinese" people at breakfast
  • Ormsby pretends that he can't find the reservation
  • Young family can't believe that and insists that he look again
  • general manager made a mistake: says that he knows the family had booked the suite but corrects it by claiming that he knows that they think they had booked the room
  • sister-in-law of Eleanor (lady who booked the suite) looks into reservations book and sees the Young name in there, demands explanation
  • the ladies seem about to apprehend what's going on
  • Ormsby gets angry, shouts that the book is private
  • Felicity (sister-in-law) tries one last time to convince the general manager to give them the room they booked, trying to get his understanding by pointing out that they had just faced a long journey and that their children just wanted to shower and sleep
  • Ormsby then claims that there aren't any rooms available
  • Eleanor has surrendered and wonders where they should go at this time, only to hear from Ormsby that they should head for Chinatown
  • children think that they can finally get in their rooms, don't understand that they are denied the room due to their nationality
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyze characterization of Reginald Ormsby
  • Means: "Evidence"
    $\rightarrow$ Interpretation
  • "all Reginald Ormsby saw […] were two little Chinese children staining the damask settee" (l. 5-6)
    $\rightarrow$ Ormsby doesn't see how composed and well-behaved the kids are, he just sees them damaging "his" precious furniture
    $\rightarrow$ deems them barbaric for ruining elaborate surroundings
  • "he could more efficiently dispatch these foreigners" (l. 10-11)
    $\rightarrow$ shows that Ormsby thinks his employees have a different opinion towards the guests - only his opinion is the right one
    $\rightarrow$ wants to dispatch them like parcels on the way to the customer, doesn't see them as human beings
  • "over-enunciating every word" (l. 12)
    $\rightarrow$ Ormsby assumes that the guests don't understand him and speaks to them as if they were slow-witted
  • "peered at her in surprise" (l. 13)
    $\rightarrow$ Ormsby looks down on them, not associating them with the aloofness of a language like English
  • italics: "Chinese" (l. 16)
    $\rightarrow$ Ormsby thinks that the Asian woman is unworthy of a "normal", Western name like Eleanor Young
  • italics: "these folk" (l. 18)
    $\rightarrow$ as if they were an uncivilized folk of savages
    $\rightarrow$ decides that they are not worthy of his hotel, especially when a noblewoman is staying there
  • italics: "Bloody Hell." (l. 30)
    $\rightarrow$ Ormsby is angry with himself that a mistake happened in front of the people he despises so much
  • "startling his two junior clerks, who glanced uncomfortably at their manager" (l. 36-37)
    $\rightarrow$ employees do not agree with Ormsby's behaviour and are not comfortable with that situation
  • "balding, red-faced man" (l. 38)
    $\rightarrow$ seems aggressive
  • "superior sneer" (l. 39)
    $\rightarrow$ Ormsby thinks he and his race is superior - puts himself in a colonial context (Singapore as a former colony)
  • "Ormsby was indignant. How dare this Chinese woman […] speak to him in such manner?" (l. 45)
    $\rightarrow$ can't believe that Chinese people of lower standing (they are from Singapore) have the audacity to criticize him
$\rightarrow$ Ormsby thinks himself superior over his guests
$\rightarrow$ puts everyone in a very awkward situation due to his behavior
$\rightarrow$ prejudices not based on substantial fact - wants to preserve purity of hotel, where a Marchioness resides
$\rightarrow$ booking of the biggest suite suggests that the Young family is wealthy, Ormsby doesn't care about that
$\rightarrow$ although they seem to have more money than Ormsby himself, he considers himself of higher status
$\blacktriangleright$  3.1 Explain quotation and assess the role of prejudice
  • "Where are we supposed to go at this hour?" Eleanor asked. "Perhaps some place in Chinatown?" Ormsby sniffed. These foreigners had wasted enough of his time.
  • Ormsby claims with his statement that the Young family should go where they actually belong - to Chinatown
  • thereby, he strips them off their status (apparently they are wealthy, being able to afford the suite) and puts them into a cultural context they don't belong to
  • they are from Singapore, not from China $\rightarrow$ for Ormsby, all Asians are the same and of the same low status
  • although incident with the Young family most likely only took 5 to 10 minutes, Ormsby thinks it is already too long and that he should spend his time with something that is worthy of his attention
  • he denies them shelter in heavy rain late in the night, inconsiderate of the tired and wet children $\rightarrow$ cruel
The role prejudice plays in everyday life:
  • prejudice as the act of making general assumptions of a person or a community based on limited understanding
  • prejudice is the gateway to hurtful and intentional racism, homophobia and inferiority and superiority complex
  • spawned out of fear and lack of understanding the world
  • still visible in some countries when trying to rent an appartment $\rightarrow$ rental denied due to certain nationality
  • job applications - some people are rejected due to their religion
  • LGBT: "small" occurrences like being treated with disrespect, being called derogatory names, or the need to watch out for potential harm when walking down the street because you are walking with a same-sex partner and expressing affection
  • impact of racism affects the quality of neighborhoods people grow up in and schools they attend ($\rightarrow$ Bronx)
  • people with disability feel excluded by the existence of several physical and social barriers
Impact on people who are victims of prejudice:
  • prejudice makes the victim feel defensive
  • a person who experiences prejudice is denied a chance to explain who they are and share their story
  • might experience shame, anger, sadness, withdrawal or an increase in motivation to make changes
  • political awareness, confidence and other valued aspects of personal development might emerge in opposition to homophobia, racism and sexism
  • if constantly being exposed to prejudices, victim might begin to believe that he or she deserves the abuse or problems encountered, and that prejudiced individuals are right to treat him or her in such a way
  • victims of prejudice are denied certain opportunities
$\blacktriangleright$  3.2 Compare situation of Eleanor Young + family with that of another character from literature or film
Situation of Eleanor Young and her family:
  • having booked the most expensive suite in the hotel and being able to afford the flight from Singapore to London at all, they can be considered as upper-class and sophisticated
  • speak perfect English, kids behave quite composed $\rightarrow$ signs that the family is well-educated, most likely more than Ormsby himself
  • are acquainted with the Anglican Bishop of Singapore $\rightarrow$ even share the same religion as most people in Great Britain
  • still, they are reduced on their looks and deemed of Chinese origin
  • upon being rejected for the first time, Eleanor doesn't assume any racist intention behind it
  • Felicity digs deeper, she does not give up that easily
  • when she sees the reservation in the book, she realizes that they are exposed to "overt racism" (l. 40)
  • insists on getting their room but are simply dispatched by Ormsby pointing out that there are no rooms available
  • Eleanor reacts rather defensive, wonders where they should go at this hour
  • does not react on rude comment of Ormsby that they should go to Chinatown
  • the whole family does not communicate their disdain, except for Felicity
  • seem to simply accept what has been going on
Types of rejection in "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling:
  • Hermione Granger is rejected for being muggle-born (she has non-magical parents)
  • even called a "mud-blood" by Draco Malfoy and his followers
  • Draco views himself as better than Hermione based on his heritage and his "pure" blood
  • yet,she is smarter, kinder, and over all a better wizard than Draco is
  • Voldemort also member of the group that believes mud bloods are dirty and shouldn’t be allowed to practice magic
  • she rose above this discrimination but also smashed the culprit behind it
  • needed validation from no one to keep moving forward $\rightarrow$ she went ahead, spoke her mind, did what she thought was right, and stuck to her decision
  • fights against the Pure-blood system and for the rights of house elves
  • Hermione emphasizes her knowledge that the treatment of goblins (who are denied using magic or carrying a wand) is wrong and that the wizards are the ones who not only created the existing racist system
$\blacktriangleright$  3.3 Write a letter of complaint
Calthorpe Hotel
Scarsdale Place
London, W8 5SR
Great Britain
To: The Owner of the Hotel
Subject: Our stay that unfortunately did not take place in your hotel
Dear Sir or Madam,
last Monday, me and my family arrived at your hotel after a 16-hour flight tired and soaked to our bones due to heavy rains. My children were tired and cold and just wanted to take a hot bath and then go to sleep. In any other hotel, we could have just grabbed our keys and just do whatever we felt like doing, but not at your hotel. The "general manager" as he calls himself basically ran towards us, eyeing my poor children grudgingly. I was almost relieved that we were being served by the general manager but not until he treated me like I was being imbecile. He pronunciated every letter to make sure I understood what he said while I am perfectly fluent in my native language English. When I asked for my reservation, he claimed he couldn't find a booking which seemed strange to me since I confirmed my reservation just two days earlier via call. Do you always treat the persons who book your Lancaster suite like that?
And even though I clearly saw my name written next to the suite in the reservations book, the manager told me and my sister-in-law that there were no rooms available. Indignantly and unbelievingly, I asked where we were supposed to go at 11 o'clock in the night. He mused that we could go to Chinatown. This comment is intolerable! It was quite clear that he rejected us due to our nationality.
I am an established woman of great wealth and political importance - I know my worth and can only look down on someone who is trying to look down on me, feeling superior over me due to a colonial history that happened decades ago. But do you even know what this means to my children? Can you comprehend how they feel, being repulsed due to their nationality? They have never known such behavior and they have never been treated in a manner like that of your general manager. They don't even understand why people are behaving so rudely! They told me they didn't feel welcome in Great Britain at all while this is their home of choice. They felt degraded, like society's scum! My children wonder what they did to deserve such treatment - when I told them that they didn't do anything, they said that it was all their fault as they were abominations. You cannot believe how hurt I have felt. To hear such things from your children who you train to live successfull, content, fulfilling lives. The damage that your so-called general manager has done to me and my family can never be undone.
I demand an apology from the general manager Reginald Ormsby and an explanation on your part.
Kind regards,
Eleanor Young
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