Girl in Translation

Nelson Character Analysis

Nelson is Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob's oldest son, who is the same age as Kim. Nelson and Kim don't like each other and are actively pitted against each other as rivals in academic achievement whenever Kim and Ma see Aunt Paula. However, though Nelson is a smart boy, he's nowhere near as gifted as Kim.

Nelson Quotes in Girl in Translation

The Girl in Translation quotes below are all either spoken by Nelson or refer to Nelson. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty and Shame Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of Girl in Translation published in 2010.
One Quotes

Nelson rolled his eyes. "Welcome to America," he said loudly for the adults' benefit. He leaned in to pretend to kiss my cheek and said softly, "You're a rake filled with dirt." A stupid country bumpkin. This time, his tones were perfect.

[…] I felt a flush crawl up my neck, then I smiled and pretended to kiss him back. "At least I'm not a potato with incense sticks for legs," I whispered.

The adults beamed.

Related Characters: Kim (speaker), Nelson (speaker), Ma, Aunt Paula, Uncle Bob
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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Nelson Character Timeline in Girl in Translation

The timeline below shows where the character Nelson appears in Girl in Translation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
One
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...care of him: he has a limp and uses a cane. Kim met her cousin Nelson and as the children greeted each other, they each whispered insults in the other's ear.... (full context)
Poverty and Shame Theme Icon
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...complimented Kim's intelligence. Ma politely played down Kim's intelligence and asked when she should begin Nelson's Chinese lessons, which made Aunt Paula hesitate. Aunt Paula carefully said that Ma's services were... (full context)
Three
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
...of Ma cutting threads as an old lady. She thinks of Aunt Paula saying that Nelson will be a great lawyer someday. Though Kim has no idea what lawyers do, she... (full context)
Six
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
...let Kim apply to Harrison; she insists the school is too expensive and not even Nelson could get in. Kim admits the envelope contains her acceptance and scholarship letters, not an... (full context)
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...doesn't have their best interests at heart, Kim is not supposed to do better than Nelson, and Paula would be happy to have them stay in their apartment and work in... (full context)
Seven
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
...her own advantage. Kim realizes that Paula wants her to set a good example for Nelson. (full context)
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
At Aunt Paula's house, Kim notices that Nelson is wearing his school uniform too. She realizes that Paula wants to show off that... (full context)
Ten
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob invite Kim and Ma to accompany them to see Nelson's debate competition. Apparently, he's very good. In Bob and Paula's minivan, Ma and Kim sit... (full context)
Twelve
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
Independence and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...Paula's problem is. Kim explains that she's jealous because she's doing better in school than Nelson. To keep Matt around a moment more, Kim asks where Mrs. Wu and Park are,... (full context)