Chinese immigrants came to Canada and settled into a new culture. In the process of settling into a new environment, they have encountered new problems and conflicts between the their original culture and the new culture, creating a culture clash. The conflict involves not only the internal family structure and the external social structure but also the way of preserving their traditional culture and language. Immigrants are destined to deal with two different cultures. Truly, it is very hard to balance between their original identities and their chosen identities.
"The Jade Peony" illustrates and focuses on the potentially destructive impact of racism and poverty on individual identity. In the story, Choy examines the Chinese immigrant experience in Canada and its effect on individual identity. The life of Chinese immigrants was characterized by many social economic and personal hardships. Government legislation and institutionalized racism prevented them from achieving economic prosperity (Henry Lam, 1990, p32).
Cultural politics and social pressures caused generational conflicts and ultimately a division among generations, between the Chinese immigrant and the Canadian social system. The younger generations, which is willing to accept the new identity and is trying to merge into the new environment, became distressed under the pressure of the older generations. Also, at the same time, the younger generations suffer poverty and racism. They were the common difficulties for all the early Chinese Immigrants. In "The Jade Peony", the grandchildren, Sek-Lang, Kiam, Liam hoped to be treated equally as normal Canadian children, but they were still considered to be Chinese by other Canadians.
Assimilation of the younger generation into Canadian social structure caused identity conflicts and generational conflicts among the characters. The old people in the novel resisted assimilation fearing a loss of culture and identity. The younger children, growing up and attending school, accepted the...