Chapter

Unlikely Daughters, Exemplary Mothers, and Disembedded China Men: Jade Snow Wong and Maxine Hong Kingston

Yoon Lee

in Modern Minority

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199915835
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199315956 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199915835.003.0004
Unlikely Daughters, Exemplary Mothers, and Disembedded China Men: Jade Snow Wong and Maxine Hong Kingston

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For Chinese-Americans during and after World War II, everydayness offered a means of constructing an identity that was both modern and American. Fifth Chinese Daughter exhibits a particular type of everyday thinking that relies on the repeatability of actions as the basis of knowledge. Wong claims modernity by presenting herself as an anomaly, an unlikely daughter of Chinatown. Thus she illustrates her fitness as a post-war American citizen. After the social movements of the late 1960s and 70s, everyday recurrence fails to offer an adequate basis of identity. Rather, identity comes to be equated with self-determination and unique laws of self-development. Kingston’s The Woman Warrior struggles to base a sense of self on her mother’s exemplary stories, but the project proves untenable in the face of the modern world’s repetitions and reductions. In her second work, China Men, she turns toward modern history, offering a portrait of the everyday as the realm of faceless, endless, and abstract labor, performed by generic subjects.

Keywords: probability; disembedding; identity; exemplarity; Maxine Hong Kingston; Jade Snow Wong; story; everyday

Chapter.  14096 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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