We talked in class this morning (to grossly paraphrase) about how Frank Chin didn’t want to be American nor Asian, he wanted to be somewhere in between. This reminded me pretty immeadiately of an author I read last year for my Global Issues in Lit class. We read a poem by Julia Alvarez , a Dominican- American 20th century author. She said in an interveiw: “I am a Domincan hyphen American. As a fiction writer, I find the most exciting things happen in the realm of that hyphen – the place where two worlds collide.” Chin has alligned himself with the same view- the binary is tiresome and doesn’t feel like enough space to navigate his identity. Along the same lines, I think Donald’s dad has adopted this idea of living within the “realm of the hyphen” (successfully? that is a whole other blog post). He prides himself for not “giving anything up and add[ing] on… Including America in everything else they know”and scolds Donald for not doing the same. (42) I thought it was interesting to point out that while Alvarez writes with this intention, Chin adds a layer of self-awareness, choosing to write his characters as aware of the space in between idetinties. I think this absolutely contributes to Donald’s axienty surrounding his identity. He loathes this part of himself because he is constantly harassed and bullied by others, but then his father comes at him from the other side and berates him for not being “Chinese enough.” The hyphen that is exhilirating for Dad, is entirely anxiety inducing and uncomfortable for Donald.

“Something in between….”

One thought on ““Something in between….”

  • September 11, 2019 at 2:06 am

    I think you’re entirely right about dual cultural identity and the space between the two cultures being Chin’s point of interest. To add on to your point, I think the current dynamic between Donald and his father is in part about the dynamics of how that dual perspective can be used. Where King’s perspective on being specifically Asian-American enables him, as you said, to incorporate various cultures into his identity, Donald’s dual perspective means that he consistently positions himself as an outsider to both of his cultures. Donald consistently sees everything related to Chinese culture as embarrassing, filtering it through its commodification by white audiences. However, his white peers’ and teachers’ treatment of him as ‘other’ means that he cannot integrate into their community either, and furthermore that he has no option but to be disgusted by them in some cases, such as his history teacher and the couple buying fireworks.

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