Fifth Chinese Daughter Critical Context - Essay

Jade Snow Wong

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Wong’s Fifth Chinese Daughter is an unusual autobiography, as its author is not a professional writer or even an individual who is well known in another field. Wong’s goal was simply to explain her life as a Chinese-American woman, providing insights into both cultures. Although this work was first published when Wong was only twenty-eight years old, she did not produce another book until twenty-five years later, in 1975. In that year, she published No Chinese Stranger, an illustrated text describing China and her travels through that country beginning in 1949, when the Communist government came into power.

Fifth Chinese Daughter is a valuable tool for young adult readers, especially Amer-icans, as schools begin to emphasize a multicultural education. This approach, as evidenced in Wong’s autobiography, creates understanding of ethnic minority cultures. Such understanding brings appreciation and reduces prejudice, reactions that are necessary in a multicultural society. Fifth Chinese Daughter fulfills this educational purpose by serving as one voice among many.

In addition, because Wong was a young woman when she wrote her autobiography, she still identified strongly with teenagers and could write from a youthful perspective, as well as from a slightly older one. Consequently, the book shows young adult readers not only that it is normal for adolescents to question the values of their parents but also that the resolution of such conflicts is possible with maturity.