Translating and Transforming the American Dream: Jade Snow Wong's <i>Fifth Chinese Daughter</i> and Gish Jen's <i>Typical American</i>

Weimin Tang

in China Abroad

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9789622099456
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206687 | DOI:
Translating and Transforming the American Dream: Jade Snow Wong's Fifth Chinese Daughter and Gish Jen's Typical American

Show Summary Details


This chapter, by focusing on what have been largely denounced as the two assimilationist Bildungsromane, Jade Snow Wong's Fifth Chinese Daughter, and Gish Jen's Typical American, brings to the fore an insider and outsider's profound ambivalence that illuminates the full complexity of the cross-cultural Chinese American subject. It is precisely in the active presence of this Chineseness, both as a historical given and cultural reinvention, that the myth of the American Dream as a trope of assimilation in the narratives of Wong's and Jen's mimic (wo)men's striving for likeness to the original symbol is simultaneously negotiated and contested. Ultimately transcending the reductive dichotomous polarization, the dream narratives of Wong and Jen are reread here as enunciating a metonymic displacement and transformation of the national myth in the cross-cultural Chinese American subject's very translational repetition of the American Dream itself.

Keywords: Jade Snow Wong; Fifth Chinese Daughter; Gish Jen; Typical American; Chineseness; American Dream; Dream narratives

Chapter.  6341 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Hong Kong University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.