Bamboo in Catfish and Mandala is a symbol that evokes repression and fear. Thong Pham uses the bamboo canes to discipline his children as well as show them his love. In turn An uses the canes to torment and discipline his younger brothers, until Hien comes at him with a knife in defense (238). It is not until this instance that An realized how violent he acts towards his brothers; he is glad Hien did this because it allowed An to learn to control his anger. An is fearful of his own strength and the abilities of his brothers to fight back. However, their father, a traditional Vietnamese father, may go overboard in his disciplining; for him discipline often becomes uncontrolled rage. For Chi, the bamboo is a symbol of repression. Her father tries to beat femininity into her because he does not know any other way to deal with abnormality of his child. However, his approach seems to backfire because she only becomes more and more masculine as the story and the beating progresses. In the end, Chi, now Minh, a transgendered male, uses these violent experiences to build a wall of security and form a defense mechanism towards the harshness of the world. However, this wall is only so strong. Minh breaks down after years of desperately trying to find acceptance and understanding from the ones he loves. After the rejection from his wife, Minh is unable to rebuild. Minh feels emasculated because he has never felt more comfortable in his body, yet at the same time his inability to reproduce tears he and his wife apart and shatters his world.