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TRADITIONAL VERSUS MODERN CHINESE AMERICANS: THE CHINESE AMERICAN DREAM IN CHU’S EAT A BOWL OF TEA Name Class 15 September 2013 When a former philanderer becomes impotent in bed (with his beautiful wife), his world crashes down, together with Chinatown. This seems to be the gist of Louis Chu’s Eat a Bowl of Tea: A Novel of New York's Chinatown…
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Download file to see previous pages Chu derives his characters and sub-plots in the novel from his own experience of living and growing up in Chinatown. His novel may not be the first Chinese American Novel because Lin Yutang published Chinatown Family in 1948. Chu’s main difference from Lin was that the former lived and worked in Chinatown. His Chinatown life helped him write a realistic portrayal of Chinese immigrants’ language, stories, hopes, and disappointments in the United States. For example, Chu allows his characters to use Cantonese English, which provides cultural flavor to how the Chinese expressed themselves in America. Chinese American English in Chinatown demonstrates the various conflicts that impact their racial group. Hence, Chu’s Chinatown is Wang Ben Loy and Wang Wah Gay’s Chinatown too. To provide a synopsis of the novel, Chu started his novel with a visit of a prostitute to a newly-wed’s apartment. She is one of Ben Loy’s former girls. ...
to work as a waiter, though he also served the American army in World War II. By the time he was twenty, his mother suggested for him to marry. Lee Gong is Wah Gay’s friend and gambling partner, and he made a pact with Wah Gay for his daughter Mei Oi to be married to Ben Loy. Ben Loy goes to China and falls in love with Mei Oi and vice versa. Since then, Ben Loy wants to change his ways. He has been a womanizer before without his father’s knowledge because he wants to escape his father’s strict Confucian beliefs and practices. Ben Loy, however, becomes impotent after marriage, which he blames to his prostitute-dependent days. Because of his husband’s impotence, Mei Oi feels undesirable and unloved. She falls prey to Ah Song, an older philanderer. She has an affair with him, until she becomes pregnant with his child. Ben Loy accepts the child despite knowing about the affair, just to decrease the pressures from his family of having a son. When news breaks out on the real father’s identity, chaos follows Ben Loy’s life. He and Mei Oi transfer to San Francisco, where they turn a new leaf. He discovers from a Chinese herbalist that eating a bowl of tea every day would cure his impotence, and it did. The novel ends with a happy note, with Loy’s marriage being saved and their clan’s peace restored. Chu has brought his life experiences into his novel, enabling him to faithfully depict the imperfectly beautiful life of Chinese immigrants in New York. Chu became the director of a New York social center and a radio program host, which gave him the opportunity to study and to showcase his Chinese American culture. His Chinatown life gives texture to his Chinese characters in Eat a Bowl of Tea and the conflicts they face as Chinese and as ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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