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The Jade Peony

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Novel Response “” ” The Jade Peony” Summery of ” The Jade Peony ” The novel ” The Jade Peony” by Wayson Choy, examines the Chinese Immigrant experiences in Canada and its effect on individual identities. The story is set in Vancouver, Chinatown during the period of 1930 and 1940s, which is before and during the World War II. This novel particularly focuses on one Chinese Family with three different generations. The novel is narrated through the point of views of three children within the family; therefore it is divided into three major parts.

In part one, Jook Liang, the only sister, likes people’s attention and dreams of being Shirley temple. Unfortunately, girls are considered ” useless” in a traditional Chinese family. Her grandmother repeatly reminded her, ” Jook Liang, If your want a place in this world, do not be born a girl child.” However, Liang realizes the truth that she is neither useless nor ugly through the tap dancing and deep friendship with an old family’s friend “” Wong Bak In part two, Jung Sum is introduced as the second brother who is adopted into the family. He boxes in order to overcome his feeling of weakness. The story is concluded by the youngest brother, Sek Lung, a sickly child nicknamed Sekky. Because of his sickness, he spends most of his time accompanying his grandmother.

Sekky was born in Vancouver. He prefers the English way more because he is never able to understand the family ranking and the Chinese kinship terms. Both the internal family cultures and external society produced a conflict in the novel. The internal problems are mainly focus on their view on gender role, traditional culture, language issues and parental values. The external forces focus on the Canadian values, employment expectation, racism and education. The conflict between two cultures shaped the immigrant’s identity.

Personal Response to ” The Jade Peony” This book provided a lively description of a typical Chinese immigrant family in the 1930s and 1940s. The author created the characters in the story from his own experiences and the elder’s stories from stories he heard in Vancouver, Chinatown. Therefore, the events and people in the novel are realistic. This book helps me to have a better understanding of the environment and the problems that the Chinese immigrants suffered at that time. In order for the Chinese immigrants to survive in a new foreign environment, some of their culture would be abandoned and some new things would be necessary to adapt. One of the themes that the author raises in the novel does apply to many immigrants, the young generations are unsure of their own identities. Sekky once asks ” Am I Chinese or Canadian?”

This question does not only appear in his mind but in the minds of many immigrants. Comparing the lift of early Chinese immigrants to recent immigrants in Vancouver, some significant changes can be observed. The Chinese immigrants expanded their settlement outside of Chinatown. Their cohesion shaped up a strong group in the society. The author uses flashback interpolation to tell the story. I find it is interesting to watch the children growing up; meanwhile, observing their changing in different stages. I enjoy this book immensely because the story is humorous and the setting is in Vancouver. The places in the novel sound familiar, such as Powell Street, False Greek, Hasting and Pender Street. What I dislike about the book is at the beginning the book begins very slow, however it is worth persisting, you will be hooked before you reach part two.

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