By Walter S. H. Lim (auth.)
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Additional resources for Narratives of Diaspora: Representations of Asia in Chinese American Literature
By having Joy undertake a reverse journey to China after realizing that it is May and not Pearl who is her birth mother, See allows the Americanborn daughter to experience China firsthand, an experience that will compel her to compare the conditions of her American upbringing and those of the country of her parents’ birth, now under Communist rule. See makes clear that in her experience of China, Joy brings with her a romanticized and naïve perspective that will be corrected through the repercussions of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, a project that culminated in the strangling of the human spirit in state-mandated communes and the deaths of millions of people through famine.
In fact the Sino-Japanese War even made it difficult for Anling to extend help to her daughter-in-law Mitsuko and grandson Shin after the death of her son. Whether alluded to in an anecdotal manner or described in detail as a novel’s central thematic focus, the significance of the Sino-Japanese War in Chinese American literature is reinforced by literary, historical, and filmic 32 ● Narratives of Diaspora works outside of this canon, refusing to be forgotten. The war’s representational presence in Chinese American literature encourages comparative analysis with these other works, some of which assume the form of sentimental and nationalistic Chinese movies that valorize Chinese cultural superiority, while others indicate challenges in handling points-of-view when representing the politically sensitive subject matter of the Japanese occupation of Nanjing.
20 ● Narratives of Diaspora of this history—the Republican Revolution, the Sino-Japanese War, World War II, and the Chinese Civil War. In The Kitchen God’s Wife, the convulsions of China’s twentieth-century political landscape find their metaphorical analogy at the microcosmic level of family life in Winnie’s physical abuse and mental torture by her husband Wen Fu. If Winnie’s rape by Wen Fu and her overall helplessness in the face of his abuse symptomatize the far reach of Chinese patriarchal tyranny, they also become associational metaphors for China’s invasion by a masculinist and imperialist Japan.
Narratives of Diaspora: Representations of Asia in Chinese American Literature by Walter S. H. Lim (auth.)