Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Wang Ben Loy

Wang Ben Loy, the individual at the center of this comic novel. He is a young waiter in a restaurant in New York’s Chinatown, and he resembles the sympathetic and underdog youth of classic comedy. Born in a Chinese village and reared there until the age of seventeen, Ben Loy has been brought up with the traditional Confucian values and is thus a filial son. Although as the novel opens he is in his twenties, holds a job, has done his hitch in the army during World War II, and is a married man, he still regards his father with some awe. His one character flaw is his sensuality, which leads him to patronize prostitutes. Retribution for this occurs when he becomes impotent with his wife, who cuckolds him. Through love and forgiveness, he is able to work out his atonement and rehabilitation.

Wang Wah Gay

Wang Wah Gay, Ben Loy’s father. He has been a sojourner in America for some thirty years. He started out as a laundryman but now owns and operates a gambling joint in New York’s Chinatown. Wah Gay fits the classic comic mold of the parent who tyrannizes the younger generation. He exercises a rigid, traditionally Confucian domination over Ben Loy, deciding when to transplant him from his native village to New York and determining whom he is to marry. He gives his son no quarter to develop his own individuality or to pursue his own happiness. Although Wah Gay insists that Ben Loy should be a good Confucian son, he himself is not a good Confucian father, for he makes his...

(The entire section is 628 words.)