In Bone , the characters’s dual identities as both Chinese and American are affected by numerous factors. One of the greatest differences is shown between those who were raised in China and immigrated as adults and those who were raised in the United States. Other significant differences are presented as...
relating to their generation and gender. The author also shows meaningful differences that stem from individual traits pertaining to the characters’s personalities. Individuality is especially notable among the sisters.
As a Chinese woman who moved to the United States, Dulcie (Mah) had to make numerous adjustments. She worked to support her family and remains obligated to her employer. Even though she chose her own husband, her responsibilities connect her to the man she rejected. She tries, with varying degrees of success, to instill in her daughters the attachment to the Chinese culture and language that she continues to feel. Although she thinks of femaleness in traditional terms, she also shows greater strength than Leon. Her husband is often derailed by guilt over losing the Chinese ways, and especially by his failure to bury his father properly
Mah’s youngest daughter, Nina, negotiates the dualities by fully embracing parts of each culture but keeping her life compartmentalized. Although she has moved away from the family and Chinese American community, she has learned Chinese. Furthermore, she returns frequently to China through her employment as a guide.
Leila, her oldest sister, has more difficulty in reconciling the Chinese dimensions of her life. She seeks resolution less through her own actions but through a relationship with a man she believes has learned to accept both sides. The greatest contrast is drawn with Ona, who died by suicide. The author suggests that identity issues contributed to multiple problems, including drug use, which culminated with to her death.