I thought some more about the exercise we did in class “Another word for Donald’s Dreams is ______” Thinking along the lines of “corrective history,” I think it’s really important to consider how Donald’s age plays a role in understanding his history, and thus understanding how to correct it. It kept bothering me why Donald was so reluctant to listen to his father when he talking about how “Donald Duk may be the very last American-born Chinese to believe you have to give up being Chinese to be an American” (Chin 42). His conflict lies within his indentity crisis and as we said in class his double conciousness. However, I do not think Donald would be having this identity crisis if he were not twelve years old. He is on the brink of teenagedom, the Chinese New Year is placing emphasis on his transition to adulthood, he is worried about his sexuality; Donald, to put it lightly, is going throughhhhhh it. All of this transistion makes him fight authority (his teacher and his dad). Donald will not listen to anyone, let alone his father, because he is trying to grasp any sort of identity he can hold onto, and giving into authority of any kind would be to lose his own autonomy. His dreams then are his own way of understanding what everyone is throwing at him from all directions and making sense of it in his own head. In short, it makes it seem like his own idea and that is something Donald can make peace with. The journey that Donald took would not have occured if it were not for his dreams. Thoughts? Interested in what you all think about how critical his age is to his story. I feel like we brushed over that aspect of Donald’s identity.
More on dreams
3 thoughts on “More on dreams”
I was thinking along these lines as well, and I do think that sometimes we forget that Donald Duk is a 12 year old boy. He reminded me a lot of my little brother throughout this story, with his stream of consciousness and the way he processes everything. Thinking back to when my brother was this age, I know that anytime someone told him he should do something or be interested in something, it made him want to do the opposite. I think you’re definitely right that Donald was having a lot of trouble connecting with his Chinese heritage in part because he was having a bit of a 12 year old identity crisis and also because his dad was pushing him to embrace it. I also saw the dreams as a way for Donald to feel like it was his original though or idea to start embracing Chinese culture, instead of feeling like he was doing it because he was told to. The role of the dreams in this book seemed in part to me like a way for this 12 year old boy to take control of the situation for himself and to become interested in learning about Chinese history without feeling pushed to do so. His age plays a huge part in this aspect of the story, in my opinion.
I also agree that Donald Duk’s age plays a big role as to why he is going through identity negotiation with his American and Chinese sides. Those pre-teen and teen years are one’s formative years as to what defines them and how they acknowledge who they are. At the age of 12 and towards the end of the novel, I think Donald Duk has come to the understanding that he can be both proud of his Chinese heritage and his American identity. I also have a little cousin who is going through a similar period that Donald Duk is going through where he hates his Chinese culture and his own name, and a lot of this hatred for his heritage is because of microaggression. He does not understand that Chinese and American can go hand in hand because the dialogue that he is surrounded by is separating these two identities.
However, I think identity negotiation is something that people of all ages go through. There are different stages in one’s life that they have to negotiate with balancing their intersectional identities. Whether this is due to political climates, or events, etc.
I definitely agree with everything that’s been said. Even with the stream of consciousness text, I had trouble remembering at times that he was so young. I think is because of the subject matter that he is having to explore and come to terms with. Prejudice based on his race is something he had dealt with his whole life and will continue to and he has to learn how to deal with that and learn about his heritage very early because of that. This is something I never had to deal with. I didn’t really start thinking about race until much later in my life but that is part of the privilege of being white that I often forget I have, and that definitely influenced how I read this novel.