Jade Snow Wong Biography - Essay


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The substance of Fifth Chinese Daughter is concerned with the conflicts and subsequent drama of the collision of worlds within the Chinese-American girl. At first, in the excitement of having discovered the new world, she tried to change the old ways of her family, but her efforts were unappreciated. This discovery becomes the turning point in the life of any member of the second generation as he asks, "Am I of my father's race or am I an American?" Since the familiar pattern has been made part of his emotional fiber, his heart may ache with the decision. Everyone is liable to make mistakes before he finds his own right answer. To what degree should he reject the old to make room for the new? In other words, it is not easy to find yourself even in this country of multiple opportunities. (p. 442)

The book I wrote not only emphasizes the specific and philosophic differences between the old world and the new. It tries also to tell that the greatest values are the same in both worlds. Honor, courage, honesty, uncompromise in the face of personal conviction, service to fellow man—these do not differ.

My story was written during many hours when I unhappily asked myself why I ever chose to write it. Of course, I knew that the English-reading public had rarely had a clear picture of Chinese-American family life as a Chinese saw it. Other writers had been neither conscientious nor accurate in their various concepts of San Francisco Chinatown as a wicked, dangerous place, or in their classification of the Chinese as characters of evil or...

(The entire section is 652 words.)