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The most compelling aspect of “A Temporary Marriage” for me is Mrs. Shin’s constant desire to be physically punished for any sort of wrongdoing on her part. In my mind, there are a couple of possible reasons for this. One is Mrs. Shin’s personality; throughout the story, she is demonstrated to be very independent and assertive, even aggressive at times. She is the complete opposite of what her culture deems to be ideal for a woman—quiet, meek, nonconfrontational. Does she blame her own “rebellious” nature for the loss of her daughter; does she see it as the reason her husband left her, because she couldn’t be what he wanted her to be, and didn’t want his daughter to grow up to be that way either? Another possibility, perhaps more plausible than the first, is the normalcy of abusive relationships in her world. Physical abuse is what she is used to, and without it, she feels out of balance; she needs to be corrected. When she is denied this, she resorts to punishing herself.

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