Chinese Stories About Cultural Hybridity Essay

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Wandering in the Garden and Soul Mountain

In comparing and contrasting the literary techniques of "Wandering in the Garden, Waking from a Dream" and "Soul Mountain," one of the biggest contrasts between the two stories is perspective: Gao Xingjian's "Soul Mountain" is written in the 2nd person, while Pai Hsien-yung's "Wandering in the Garden" is written in 3rd person. The narrator in each story is omniscient, which is their biggest similarity -- but the two differ in style in the sense that "Wandering in the Garden" has a stream-of-consciousness manner that runs through it, taking the reader deep into the main characters thoughts as she revisits her past. The style of "Soul Mountain" is much more descriptive and focused on producing the effect of putting the reader at the heart of the action -- after all, the reader is the subject of the narrative and so it is almost like a choose-your-own-adventure narrative without the choice. This paper will show how "Wandering in the Garden" and "Soul Mountain" compare similarly in terms of omniscient narration and how they contrast in terms of style and perspective with regard to the theme of cultural transformation.

The most immediate noticeable difference in literary technique between the two stories is the perspective of each. Pai Hsien-yung writes in the 3rd person perspective, describing the actions of Madame Ch'ien as she visits an old friend. While the narrator is privy to her innermost thoughts, her history and the history of the other characters, the main focus of the story is on Madame Ch'ien and how her evening proceeds. Over the course of the dinner party, her character is exposed to the reader in such a way that the reader experiences a great deal of sympathy for her because her position in life has not changed while her friend's has: a cultural transformation has occurred for the latter but not for the former and it is a sad, slow realization that the reader has. In Gao Xingjian's "Soul Mountain," on the other hand, the story is written in the 2nd person perspective so that "you" the reader are the actual subject and undergoing a cultural transformation by literally being placed into the story. You are transported into a foreign world and told by the narrator what you are doing, feeling and seeing. Your surroundings are vividly described so that you can see yourself there without any problem. Instead of creating sympathy for a character, Xingjian creates an experience for the reader that is felt personally by usage of the 2nd person perspective, which is a technique only rarely utilized by authors.

The two stories are similar, however, in the sense that both are narrated by an omniscient narrator, who knows all things and describes all the reader needs to know in order either to create sympathy or to create a sense of experience. In either case, the author uses the omniscient narrator technique to achieve a desired aim within the story's context. In the "Wandering in the Garden" the author is able to see into the soul of Madame Ch'ien. In "Soul Mountain" the author is able to be in the moment of travel and depict every aspect of the surroundings so that it is as if you the reader are really there.

The authors also use different styles to convey the action of the story. "Wandering in the Garden" gets into the stream of Madame Ch'ien's consciousness so that the reader is able to experience her thoughts and feelings as she is having them over the course of the party, especially towards the end when she suffers a nervous breakdown before being asked to sing. The style used in "Soul Mountain" is far more descriptive based and objective: the author is removed from your thoughts and instead paints a vivid account of the world that you are moving through so that the effect is like a literary virtual reality.

In conclusion, "Wandering in the Garden" and "Soul Mountain" are two similar but also very different stories in terms of the literary techniques that are utilized by their respective authors. The former is primarily concerned with plumbing the depths of the character's soul and the latter is primarily focused on creating an experience.

"Shaman and "Jin-Mei Woo": Comparing and Contrasting the Mother-Daughter Relationship

The mother-daughter relationship in "Shaman" and "Jing-Mei Woo: A Pair of Tickets" is similar in some ways but very different in others.

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In both stories, there is a degree of distance between the mother and daughter that is a result of the generational gap and the difference of experiences growing up. At the same time, there is the sense that the mother and daughter are closer in ways than they really imagine. This paper will show how in "Shaman" the mother-daughter relationship is depicted in terms of the mother's experiences as a Shaman while in "Jing-Mei Woo" the mother-daughter relationship is depicted through the experiences of the daughter.

"Shaman" tells the story of Brave Orchid who goes off to medical school and becomes a shaman who does battle with ghosts. Her experiences give her a certain standing that she takes back to her village where she wages war against other supernatural elements. The stories are fantastical yet to the mother they are real and the daughter simply listens to them without judging but without really seeing where she fits into her mother's world at the same time (the daughter is of the modern, Western world -- not of an ancient Eastern culture where "ghosts" are real). The relationship of the two is essentially told through the stories that Brave Orchid tells her daughter. The stories both bind and divide them.

"Jing-Mei Woo" tells the story of a daughter who travels to China to experience her heritage and meet her long-lost siblings. During her travels she reflects on her own relationship with her now deceased mother and grows in empathy towards her mother. She better understands her mother and the callous way that she treated her mother growing up, not understanding the importance of her past in China. By meeting her siblings in China, Jing-Mei comes to appreciate her mother more and even sees some of her mother in herself, particularly in the way she is upset when her travel broker makes a mistake booking hotels.

The mother-daughter relationship in the two stories is really defined similarly in the sense that each is shaped by story. Brave Orchid shapes the relationship via her stories which she tells to her daughter, and Jing-Mei shapes the relationship via her reflections, which she shares with the reader. The actual relationships are essentially only really seen in this one-sided manner -- both from the daughter's perspective as they look on at their mothers who are both foreign and yet familiar.

In conclusion, "Shaman" and "Jing-Mei Woo" reveal two mother-daughter relationships that are similar in the sense that both are revealed through the daughters' eyes and both create an effect of familiarity and distance. While Jing-Mei's relationship with her mother is told in flashbacks and is illuminated by Jing-Mei's growth as a person as she visits China, the relationship in "Shaman" is essentially one in which the daughter relates anecdotes about her mother Brave Orchid in a manner that is at once humorous and touching, revealing the difference in cultural upbringing between the two.

Jade Peony, Diamond Grill, and Pushing Hands: A Look at Cultural Hybridity

Cultural hybridity is the predominant theme in the novels Jade Peony and Diamond Grill and the film Pushing Hands. In the two novels, the cultures that are hybrids are Chinese and Canadian and are set primarily during the war and post-war eras, while in the film the cultures are Chinese and American (New York) during the modern era. The novels reflect the ways in which Chinese Canadians struggled to define their identity especially at a time when a war against the Japanese caused all Asians in the West to suffer some amounts of discrimination and confusion and is generally told from the perspective of the younger generation. The film presents the ways in which older generation feels neglected because the younger generation living in America is out of touch with the Chinese Confucian ideals that are still important to the older father. This paper will compare and contrast Jade Peony, Diamond Grill and Pushing Hands to show how cultural hybridity is an issue for all Chinese who emigrate to the West.

The main lesson that the father learns in Pushing Hands is that though his right to expect that his son and daughter should respect the Confucian principles regarding family, he must….....

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