Essays and Criticism
. . . Printed four months apart in Hampton’s Magazine (January and May 1910), ‘‘Mrs. Spring Fragrance’’ and ‘‘The Inferior Woman’’ deal with many of Sui Sin Far’s central themes and develop her most obvious trickster figure. Mrs. Spring Fragrance is the main character in both stories. ‘‘Mrs. Spring Fragrance’’ presents a comic fantasy world, ruled over by the ‘‘quaint, dainty’’ Mrs. Spring Fragrance, or ‘‘Jade,’’ a young immigrant wife who, when she ‘‘first arrived in Seattle . . . was unacquainted with even one word of the American language’’; ‘‘five years later, her husband speaking of her, says: ‘There are no more American words for her learning.’’’ Unlike Chinese Americans in other Sui Sin Far stories, the Spring Fragrances live not in a Chinatown but in an integrated middle-class Seattle suburb with white neighbors on one side and Chinese on the other. Mr. Spring Fragrance, ‘‘a young curio merchant,’’ is what westerners call ‘‘Americanized,’’ and ‘‘Mrs. Spring Fragrance [is] even more so.’’ Appropriately pluralistic, Mr. Spring Fragrance, when he gets home from his commute, sits in a bamboo settee on the verandah reading the Chinese World and feeding pigeons lichis out of his pocket. At the center of their blend of ‘‘East’’ and ‘‘West’’ life-styles is a marriage that combines elements of ‘‘arranged’’ and ‘‘romantic’’: ‘‘He had...
(The entire section is 1649 words.)
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