Study Guide

Golden Child

by David Henry Hwang

Golden Child Summary

Summary (Masterpieces of American Literature)

David Henry Hwang’s grandmother told stories about her life in China to her young grandson, who precociously recorded them in a novel at the age of ten. In 1996, Hwang’s juvenile novel was finally realized as a stage drama in Golden Child, a play narrated by a ten-year-old ghost. Focusing on the chasm between Eastern and Western religious and political practices, the play features Eng Tieng-Bin, a husband torn between his Chinese devotion to his three wives and his desire to embrace American Christianity, which mandates that he divorce two of them.

The curtain rises on a contemporary urban American scene, but soon the audience realizes that events will be anything but typical. A nervous Andrew Kwong, a young Chinese American, contemplates his imminent fatherhood from the backseat of a taxicab, when the ghost of his grandmother, Eng Ahn, materializes. As he envisions the next generation, as represented by his much anticipated child, she asks him to contemplate those generations of the past to which he is linked by blood. Ahn admonishes her amazed grandson to honor his ancestors and to revere his heritage. Quickly, time reverses itself and place shifts, taking the audience back to 1918 China. Andrew Kwong reappears as his grandfather, Eng Tieng Bin, and the ghost of Eng Ahn transforms into his living daughter, the golden child. The setting for the action of the play is now a humble Chinese village.

Eng Tieng Bin returns from a trip...

(The entire section is 416 words.)

Golden Child Bibliography (Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bacalzo, Dan. “A Different Drum: David Henry Hwang’s Musical ’Revisal’ of Flower Drum Song.” Journal of American Drama and Theatre 15, no. 2 (Spring, 2003): 71-83.

Davis, Rocio G. “’Just a Man’: Subverting Stereotypes in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly.” Hitting Critical Mass: A Journal of Asian American Cultural Criticism 6, no. 2 (Spring, 2000): 59-74.

Henry, William A. “When East and West Collide.” Time 124 (August 14, 1984): 62-64.

Hwang, David Henry. “The Demon in David Henry Hwang.” Interview by Misha Berson. American Theatre 15, no. 4 (April, 1998): 14-18.

Hwang, David Henry. “Evolving a Multicultural Tradition.” MELUS 16 (Fall, 1989/1990): 16-19.

Kim, Elaine H. “Defining Asian American Realities Through Literature.” Cultural Critique 6 (Spring, 1987): 87-111.

Kondo, Dorinne K. About Face. New York: Routledge, 1997.

Kondo, Dorinne K. “M. Butterfly: Orientalism, Gender, and a Critique of Essentialist Identity.” Cultural Critique 12 (Fall, 1990): 5-29.

Marx, Robert. “Hwang’s World.” Opera News 57 (October, 1992): 14-17.

Moy, James S. Marginal Sights: Staging the Chinese in America. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1993.

Shin, Andrew. “Projected Bodies in David Henry Hwang’s M. Butterfly and Golden Child.” MELUS 27, no. 1 (Spring, 2002): 177-197.

Shinikawa, Karen. “Who’s to Say? Or, Making Space for Gender and Ethnicity in M. Butterfly.” Theatre Journal 45 (October, 1993): 349-362.

Skloot, Robert. “Breaking the Butterfly: The Politics of David Henry Hwang.” Modern Drama 33 (March, 1990): 59-66.

Smith, Dinitia. “Face Values: The Sexual and Racial Obsessions of Playwright David Henry Hwang.” New York 26 (January 11, 1993): 40-45.

Street, Douglas. David Henry Hwang. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 1989.