“Hey Baby” by Kim Chinquee is a piece of micro-fiction written to compare two very different sides of life. War is a hot topic in today’s conversational playground, which the author highlights with his wit by mentioning the characters walk by the popular counter-culture store Hot Topic. The story is about two young people who spend a few hours in a mall observing and people watching before being shipped off to the military front lines.
After reading this 134 word piece a few times through to make sure I could digest everything it was feeding to me I realized the element best working for it was the point of view. Point of view is the angle of considering things, which shows us the opinion, or feelings of the individuals involved in a situation, it can also serve to prevent a piece from carrying a particular opinion or having the author’s voice be too loud.
Chinquee didn’t write from the viewpoint of the main characters and she didn’t choose to be the other people in the mall. Choosing to write this in a third person format keeps the biased or judgmental tone out of the piece, while emphasizing different types of life vibe. Chinquee shows us the main characters sitting “there in their jerseys and sweatpaints” while juxtaposing that with the “teens in their nose rings and purple hair and mohawks.” By Chinquee starting with the description of the main characters and following with the teens she creates a balance in showing one isn’t better than the other, just different. If one of the soldiers were describing those teens it could have quickly become about judging them and their immaturity and frivolous physical appearances, but instead it keeps a neutral observatory tone. This same smart choice can be seen in the final paragraph of the story. The author describes the characters gathering their war items and traveling to the battlefield, had this been described by the person experiencing those actions we could have gotten a very emotional tone. This is what Chinquee leaves us with: this is where they are, this is what they did and this is how it is. The first line can even be referred back to as an example of this theory. The two characters are seen eating Dippin’ Dots, a very pop culture treat, leaving them on the same playing field as anyone else in that mall, no better and no worse.
I took the liberty of reading this piece and replacing the third person narrator with a first person account from both sides, the soldiers and the mall goers. I didn’t care for the piece nearly as much from either viewpoint. The author really captured a great anonymity by choosing the third person view for “Hey Baby.” She keeps a logical distance from the controversy of supporting or protesting war that this piece could have easily fallen into.