Fred Eng, a Chinese American travel agent and tourist guide, head of Eng’s Chinatown Tour ’n Travel. Fred, the eldest son of Pa Eng, is in his forties, unmarried, and balding. Born in China and brought by Pa to San Francisco when an infant, Fred feels neither Chinese nor fully assimilated American Chinese. His job, which he despises, makes him conform to the American stereotype of the Chinese American, epitomized in the play by the American film character Charlie Chan. Although he must live and work in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Fred hates the place. When in school, he apparently had promise as a writer, but he has lost sight of his dream to become one. Torn between his desire for his own life and his responsibilities to his family, Fred hates himself and the life he feels compelled to live. In the play’s main action, the family members have gathered at their Chinatown home in San Francisco to celebrate the Chinese New Year, which is likely to be the dying Pa’s last. Fred wants to get Ma and Johnny to leave San Francisco’s Chinatown after Pa’s death and move to Boston with Sis. He tries to get Pa to tell them to go, but the old man refuses and dies during a struggle with Fred. Fred remains in Chinatown, even though he hates it, because the San Francisco Chinatown is the only place he feels he belongs.
Wing Eng, called Pa, the father of Fred, Sis, and Johnny, and the honorary mayor of San Francisco’s Chinatown. A stylish but conservative dresser, Pa is a China-born Chinese man in his sixties. He has been in the United States since 1935 and regards San Francisco’s Chinatown as his home. He is dying of a lung disease. As the play’s action demonstrates, Pa is at times brutally autocratic and selfish, but he is loved by his children and wife. Pa clearly depends on Fred but also abuses him and considers him a failure. He refuses to...
(The entire section is 782 words.)