Essay

Prepare to write an essay to critique these stories. Do not just summarize the stories. Write with your critical understanding of the stories: What is the meaning of the story? Suggestions on your critique’s thematic focus/foci: 1. In “Number One Son”, “Food For All His Dead”, “Yahk Fahn, Auntie”, and “A Day in Pleasantville” there are generational, family, and cultural conflicts. How do these conflicts evolve and what are the resolutions? 2. In “New Year for Fong Wing”, “The Only Real Day,” “Jackrabbit”, “A Day in Pleasantville”, and “One Winter Evening”, there are depictions of immigrants being burdened with the homeland cultural allegiance and responsibility. Why? And how so?

10 AAS322 #10 April 14, 2021 (sent April 16) M K Hom

I Comments on the Chinese American poetry assignment

The selections reflect a diverse aesthetic response from Chinese American poets of the Civil Rights movement era. While the majority of them, like Laureen Mar, Wing Tek Lum, Alan Lau, Eric Chock saw an open forum for them to express their thoughts on identity, cultural conflicts, and generational distance, etc., there were others, such as Diana Chang, who see the pursuit of having an ethnic/racial identity as something curiously troublesome.

Chang’s “Otherness” is her tease on the obsessive need for a racial identification. Let me explain: If you may recall, in your college admission application form, there is this spot “Race” for the applicant to fill in: “Caucasian”, Asian-Pacific”, “Hispanic/Latino/Chicano”, “Black/African-American”, “Native American/American Indian”. And there is the last category: “Other” followed with “specify___”.

Chang finds it humorous. Is there such a race called “Other”? Being a person of mixed heritage, she goes on to suggest that your sense of identity and belonging is in your heart and mind, as seen in the Jewish Diaspora, not what is shown in your birthday suit, the skin color.

Eric Chock, from Hawai’i, would also humorously suggest that we Asian Americans, an ethnic minority, are at times overly obsessed with issues of social injustices that may perhaps ruin the simple pleasures in our life.

Of course, it is undeniable that in the poems of Wing Tek Lum, Alan Lau, and Laureen Mar, the didactic messages are strong and powerful: Asian American Americans face and must overcome the predicament of disconnection between two generations due to social conditioning in our American life. And it is upon the younger generation to move proactively to alleviate and remove the distance impacted by the American ways of lives.

II Post-WWII short stories written by Chinese American writers Monfoon. Leong, Frank Chin, Jeffery Chan, Darrell Lum, and Pai Hisen-yung.

Some background information on the Chinese American short story writers:

Monfoon Leong: Born in California, an English teacher in San Francisco public school (Marina Junior High), died in a vacation accident in Europe in the late 60s. Gordon Lew at City College, a publisher of a Chinatown weekly newspaper, published his short stories collection entitled Number One Son.

Frank Chin: Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, educated at UC Berkeley with an English major (creative writing). Founding member of the CARP group; he is

 

 

the most controversial Chinese American writer since the late 60s, feuding with several well-known Asian American writers. The stories in the Class Reader are his early writings.

Jeffery P. Chan: Born in San Francisco, graduate of UC Berkeley in English and an MFA at SF State (creative writing), and founding member of the CARP group; he was also the founding faculty of the Asian American Studies Department at SF State University in spring 1969, and the originator of the Asian American and Chinese American literature classes.

Darrell Lum: Born and educated in Honolulu, Hawai’i, was a core member of the Bamboo Ridge, an Asian Pacific Hawaiian writers’ group in Honolulu. He was active in the Hawaiian indigenous movement in the 70s and 80s and have written stories using Hawaiian pidgins (“The Beer Can Hat”) to highlight Hawaiian native’s spiritual nobility and dignity.

Pai-hsien Yung 白先勇, aka Kenneth Pai: grew up and educated in Taiwan, graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop; he became a professor of Chinese at UC Santa Barbara until his retirement. He is among the best known immigrant Chinese writers published his works in Taiwan and was the first who, in the mid 1960s after coming to America, wrote about middle class Chinese immigrant families and their American born offspring in America. The two stories in the Class Reader were originally written in Chinese, published in Taiwan, and translated into English and published in American university press.

Please read these short stories on your own first without any comments from me. I want you to develop a sense of critical reading on your own and have trust your first response. I will provide an analysis on some of these stories in our next class session, after you have done your initial reading.

Prepare to write an essay to critique these stories. Do not just summarize the stories. Write with your critical understanding of the stories: What is the meaning of the story? Suggestions on your critique’s thematic focus/foci:

1. In “Number One Son”, “Food For All His Dead”, “Yahk Fahn, Auntie”, and “A Day in Pleasantville” there are generational, family, and cultural conflicts. How do these conflicts evolve and what are the resolutions?

2. In “New Year for Fong Wing”, “The Only Real Day,” “Jackrabbit”, “A Day in Pleasantville”, and “One Winter Evening”, there are depictions of immigrants being burdened with the homeland cultural allegiance and responsibility. Why? And how so?

Critique due: April 26 (Monday)