Khmer Literacy | Unit 2

In this unit, we focus on introductory to in-depth Khmer grammar. In doing so, we studied two Khmer novel, one of which called Tum Teav about love between two people of different class, and the other is called Melea Doun Chet which is about love between two people of different race and class. These two novels have a very different setting and plots but they all communicate the same thing: class and social status don’t matter in a love relationship.


Back in time, parents in Cambodia usually arrange a marriage for their children to someone of the same class. Love relationships between classes were forbidden because they do not want their children to be involved with someone from a family that is inferior to them. But of course, attraction and love can’t be stopped. At some point in history, young adults start to revel against their guardian to live with someone they truly love, but the result never ends well.


Seeing this problem, a writer of that time wrote a novel called Tum Teav. Tum is the name of the male character, while Teave is the name of the female character. They were deeply in love even though they weren’t supposed to. When the first met Tum was a monk, a religious figure who is to not date or want anything thing more than what they need t to survive. Because of his strong attraction, Tum decided to quit being a monk to reunite and prosper with his girlfriend.


By then, he was almost too late. Teav’s mom had decided to offer her as the mistress of the king of the is wealthy and powerful. Luckily for him, he was there to declare his love relationship with his girlfriend. Awed by his bravery, the king gifted the coupled with a marriage. They were all happy, except for Teav’s mother. She wanted her daughter to marry someone wealthy, so she devises a plan to trick her own daughter to leave her husband and marry someone else by lying to her that she is sick and really want to see her daughter.


Teav did not know about her mother’s plan, went home immediately to see her mom but was captured and forced to marry the next day. To her luck, someone offered to pass this information t her husband who rushes to her home as soon as he receives the letter. When he got there, things did turn as expected, and so the couple ends up dying under their love tree.


The novel ends here to leave space for readers who guardian to reflect and they story and think about what they would do as a parent through considering they rather having their kid being dead by forcing them into a marriage. Not surprisingly, many people who have read this novel which is written in a poem associate it to Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, because they both have a similar story and communicate the same idea.

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