Fifth Chinese Daughter Essay - Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Biography Series Fifth Chinese Daughter Analysis

Jade Snow Wong

Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction Fifth Chinese Daughter Analysis

This autobiography, which was written by a young woman who was only in her twenties, illuminates the struggle of a Chinese-American daughter of Chinese immigrant parents to blend two cultures in developing her own individual identity. Through various flashbacks, the reader can compare the life and values in China with both the life and values of Chinese immigrants and of native-born Chinese Americans in the 1930’s and 1940’s. As with other immigrant groups, the first-generation immigrants clung to Chinese customs, but with a few variations in values and customs. They preferred living in areas populated by their own ethnic group, speaking only their native language to their children. They did not learn English and depended on their native-born children to translate when they had to interact with English-speaking Americans.

The native-born children were thrown into the dominant culture when they began school. As they became more aware of the differences between the dominant culture and the Chinese immigrant culture, the native-born children began to rebel against some of the values and traditions of their parents. Finally, an individual culture was created, blending aspects of the old and the new.

This book by Wong provides insight into the gradual acculturation of immigrant groups into American society. It also reveals the difficulties of these children, even very bright and studious ones, in school. School culture values student...

(The entire section is 474 words.)