Study Guide

Mindy in Eleanor & Park

Mindy

Park's mom, Mindy—real name Min-Dae—is a beautician from Korea. She met Park's dad Jamie when he was in the Army, and left her family behind to start a life with him in Omaha. She's tiny and very lovely—Eleanor thinks she's doll-like—but she almost never talks about her life in Korea to Park, and he's never met the Korean side of his family.

Mindy still has a really distinctive Korean accent. Park thinks:

[…] she was apparently never going to stop sounding like she just got here yesterday from Korea. Sometimes Park thought she kept the accent on purpose, because his dad liked it. But his mom tried so hard to fit in every other way… if she could sound like she grew up right around the corner, she would. (6.26)

We talk a bit about Park's confusion about what it means to be Korean over in his character analysis, and here we can see that, loving and lovely though she is, Mindy doesn't really help him sort this out much.

Mindy's status as an outsider, having arrived in Omaha from Korea, gives her a unique ability to understand Eleanor's situation. She doesn't accept Eleanor initially, though, but when she sees Eleanor at the market with her siblings, she suddenly understands Eleanor's upbringing—Mindy's also from a poor family with lots of kids. Mindy is so sweet and empathetic that the sight of Eleanor's family affects her deeply. She spends the afternoon in her room, crying, because she understands so well. She tells Park:

"In big family […] everything […] everybody spread so thin […] Nobody gets enough. Nobody gets what they need. When you always hungry, you get hungry in your head." (32.79-82)

From then on, her attitude toward Eleanor is totally transformed. Mindy's not only understanding about Park's relationship with her, but helps them find time alone.