The Kitchen God's Wife

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Feminism And Gender Equality In The 1990's


the rights and status of women have improved considerably in the


century; however, gender equality has recently been threatened

within the last decade.

Blatantly sexist laws and practices are

slowly being eliminated while social perceptions of

"women's roles"

continue to stagnate and even degrade back to traditional ideals.

It is

these social perceptions that challenge the evolution of

women as equal on all levels. In

this study, I will argue that

subtle and blatant sexism continues to exist throughout


economic, professional and legal arenas.

Women who carefully

follow their expected roles may never recognize sexism as

an oppressive

force in their life. I find many parallels between women's experiences

in the

nineties with Betty Friedan's, in her essay: The Way We

Were - 1949. She dealt with a

society that expected women to fulfill

certain roles. Those roles completely disregarded

the needs of

educated and motivated business women and scientific women.



subtle message that society gave was that the educated woman

was actually selfish and


I remember in particular the

searing effect on me, who once intended

to be a psychologist, of

a story in McCall's in December 1949 called

"A Weekend with Daddy."

A little girl who lives a lonely life with

her mother, divorced,

an intellectual know-it-all psychologist, goes

to the country to

spend a weekend with her father and his new wife,

who is wholesome,

happy, and a good cook and gardener. And there is

love and laughter

and growing flowers and hot clams and a gourmet

cheese omelet and

square dancing, and she doesn't want to go home.

But, pitying her

poor mother typing away all by herself in the

lonesome apartment,

she keeps her guilty secret that from now on she

will be living

for the moments when she can escape to that dream

home in the country

where they know "what life is all about." (See

Endnote #1)


have often consulted my grandparents about their experiences, and

I find their

historical perspective enlightening. My grandmother

was pregnant with her third child in

1949. Her work experience

included: interior design and modeling women's clothes for


Sears catalog. I asked her to read the Friedan essay and let me

know if she felt as

moved as I was, and to share with me her experiences

of sexism. Her immediate reaction

was to point out that "Betty

Friedan was a college educated woman and she had certain


that never interested me." My grandmother, though growing up during

a time

when women had few social rights, said she didn't experience

oppressive sexism in her

life. However, when she describes her

life accomplishments, I feel she has spent most of

her life fulfilling

the expected roles of women instead of pursuing goals that were


reserved for men. Unknowingly, her life was controlled by

traditional, sexist values

prevalent in her time and still prevalent

in the nineties.

Twenty-four years after the above article from

McCall's magazine was written, the

Supreme Court decided whether

women should have a right to an abortion in Roe v.

Wade (410 U.S.

113 (1973)). I believe the decision was made in favor of women's


mostly because the court made a progressive decision to

consider the woman as a human

who may be motivated by other things

in life than just being a mother. Justice Blackmun

delivered the

following opinion:

Maternity, or additional offspring, may force

upon the woman a

distressful life and future. Psychological harm

may be imminent.

Mental and physical health may be taxed by child

care. There is

also a distress, for all concerned, associated with

the unwanted

child, and there is the problem of bringing a child

into a family

already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to

care for it. In

other cases, as in this one, the additional difficulties


continuing stigma of unwed motherhood may be involved. (See



I feel the court decision of Roe v. Wade would not

have been made in 1949.

Even in 1973, it was a progressive decision.

The problem of abortion has existed for the

entire history of this

country (and beyond), but had never been addressed because


these issues was not socially acceptable. A culture of not discussing

issues that

have a profound impact on women is a culture that encourages

women to be powerless.

The right of abortion became a major issue.

Before 1970, about a million abortions were

done every year, of

which only about ten thousand were legal. Perhaps a third of the


having illegal abortions - mostly poor people - had to be hospitalized


complications. How many thousands died as a result of these

illegal abortions no one

really knows. But the illegalization of

abortion clearly worked against the poor, for the

rich could manage

either to have their baby or to have their abortion under safe


(See Endnote #3)

A critic of the women's movement would quickly

remind us that women have a

right to decline marriage and sex,

and pursue their individual interests. However, I would

argue that

the social pressure women must endure if they do not conform to

their expected

role is unfair. The problem goes beyond social conformity

and crosses into government

intervention (or lack thereof). The

1980's saw the pendulum swing against the women's

movement. Violent

acts against women who sought abortions became common and the


was unsympathetic to the victims. There are parallels between the


Black's civil rights movement and the women's movement:

Blacks have long been

accustomed to the white government being

unsympathetic to violent acts against them.

During the civil rights

movement, legal action seemed only to come when a white civil


activist was killed. Women are facing similar disregard presently,

and their

movement is truly one for civil rights.

A national

campaign by the National Organization of Women began on 2 March


demanding that the US Justice Department investigate anti-abortion

terrorism. On 1

August federal authorities finally agreed to begin

to monitor the violence. However,

Federal Bureau of Investigation

director, William Webster, declared that he saw no

evidence of

"terrorism." Only on 3 January 1985, in a pro-forma statement, did


President criticize the series of bombings as "violent anarchist

acts" but he still refused

to term them "terrorism." Reagan deferred

to Moral Majoritarian Jerry Falwell's

subsequent campaign to have

fifteen million Americans wear "armbands" on 22 January

1985, "one

for every legal abortion" since 1973. Falwell's anti-abortion outburst


Reaganism's orientation: "We can no longer passively and quietly

wait for

the Supreme Court to change their mind or for Congress

to pass a law." Extremism on

the right was no vice, moderation

no virtue. Or, as Hitler explained in Mein Kamph,

"The very first

essential for success is a perpetually constant and regular employment


violence." (See Endnote #4)

This mentality continued on through

1989 during the Webster v. Reproductive

Health Services (109 S.

Ct. 3040 (1989)) case. "The Reagan Administration had urged


Supreme Court to use this case as the basis for overturning Roe

v. Wade." (See

Endnote #5)

It is disturbing that the slow gains

achieved by the women's movement are so volatile

and endangered

when conservative administrations gain a majority in government.

To put the

problem into perspective: a woman's right to have an

abortion in this country did not

come until 1973. Less than two

decades later, the president of the United States is pushing


take that right away. It seems blatant that society is bent on putting

women in their


From the above examples, it appears American

culture prefers women as non-

professional, non-intellectual, homemakers

and mothers. This mentality is not easily

resolved, because it

is introduced at a young age. Alice Brooks experienced inequality


the basis of her race and her sex. In her autobiography, A Dream

Deferred, she recalls the

reaction of her father when she brought

up the idea of college to him:

I found a scholarship for veterans'

children and asked my father to sign and furnish

proof that he

was a veteran. He refused and told me that I was only going to get


and have babies. I needed to stay home and help my mother

with her kids. My brother

needed college to support a family. Not

only was I not going to get any help, I was also

tagged as selfish

because I wanted to go to college. (See Endnote #6)

This is another

example of women being labeled as selfish for wanting the same


as men. Alice Brooks is a very courageous woman; seemingly able


overcome any oppression she may encounter. During her presentation

to our class, she

said that "women who succeed in male dominated

fields are never mediocre - they are

extraordinary achievers."

Her insight encapsulates much of the subtle sexism that exists


I feel that no one can truly be equal in a society when only the


achievers" are allowed to succeed out of their expected

social role.

This attitude of rising blatant and subtle attacks

on women's civil rights is further

exemplified in recent reactions

to affirmative action plans. These plans have been devised

to try

to give women and minorities an opportunity to participate in traditionally


male dominated areas. However, we see the same trends in

legal action for the use of

affirmative action plans as we saw

in the 1980's backlash against the Roe v. Wade

decision. A few

interesting points were presented in the case, Johnson v.


Agency, Santa Clara (480 U.S. 616 (1987)). Mr. Paul E. Johnson filed


against the Santa Clara County Transportation Agency when he was

denied a

promotion, feeling the company's affirmative action plan

denied him of his civil rights.

Some interesting facts were presented

in this case:

Specifically, 9 of the 10 Para-Professionals and

110 of the 145 Office and Clerical

Workers were women. By contrast,

women were only 2 of the 28 Officials and

Administrators, 5 of

the 58 Professionals, 12 of the 124 Technicians, none of the Skilled


Workers, and 1 - who was Joyce - of the 110 Road Maintenance Workers.


Endnote # 7)

The above statistics show women have been considerably

underrepresented at the

Santa Clara County Transportation Agency.

These numbers are not uncommon and are

found throughout business.

It is interesting to note the current popular perception is that


action precludes white males from finding employment with companies


implement these plans. The truth is in the numbers, however.

The fact that Mr. Johnson

felt he was denied his civil rights because

an equally qualified woman was given a

promotion, instead of him,

is just a small window into the subtle sexism that exists today.


critics of affirmative action do not consider the grossly unequal

numbers of men in

management and professional positions. Secondly,

it never seems an issue of debate that a

woman may have had no

other previous life opportunities in these male dominated areas.


do not intend to argue that affirmative action is good or bad, but

only wish to point out

that the current backlash against these

programs is heavily rooted in sexism and racism.

Often blatant

violence or unfair acts against a group of people will cause that


to pull together and empower themselves against their oppressors.

The women's

movement has made large steps to eliminate many of

these blatantly sexist acts in the last

century. Now the real difficulty

is upon us: subtle acts of sexism and the degrading social


of women in today's conservative culture. Alice Brooks so eloquently

described her

experiences with inequality, stating, "the worse

pain came from those little things people

said or did to me." As

these "little things" accumulate in the experience of a young


she increasingly finds herself powerless in her relationships, employment,


and society in general. The female child has as many goals as the

male child,

but statistically she is unable to realize these goals

because of the obstacles that society

sets in front of her. Society

and media attempt to create an illusion that women have

every right

that men enjoy. However, women will never be equal until the day


scientists, intellectuals, professionals, military leaders,

and politicians are just as accepted

and encouraged to participate

in all of society's arenas as males.


1. The Ethnic

Moment, By P.L. Fetzer. Page 57

2. Constitutional Law Cases &

Essays, By S. Goldman. Page 205.

3. A People's History Of The United

States, By Howard Zinn. Page 499.

4. Beyond Black And White, By

M. Marable. Page 40-41.

5. Constitutional Law Cases & Essays,

By S. Goldman. Page 767.

6. The Ethnic Moment, By P. L. Fetzer.

Page 234.

7. Constitutional Law Cases & Essays, By S. Goldman.

Page 784.


Fetzer, Philip L. The Ethnic Moment,

The Search For Equality In The American Experience.

New York: M.E.

Sharpe, Inc., 1997.

Goldman, Sheldon. Constitutional Law Cases

& Essays, Second Edition.

New York: HarperCollins Publishers,


Marable, Manning. Beyond Black & White.

New York:

Verso, 1995.

Zinn, Howard. A People's History of The United States.


York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1980.


The Joy Luck Club: Cutural Differences Between Daughters And Mothers

There are numerous conditions in human life that mold people into who they presently are. A person's identity and way of thinking are influenced greatly due to their family's surroundings, and relationships they are involved in. In the novel, The Joy Luck Club, the characters are generic, in the sense that, although they are from different families, the problems and emotions experienced are similar. The daughters are in an on-going search to discover themselves, who they are and what they represent. With their precious mother-daughter bonds, four immigrants are bewildered at American culture as they struggle to instill in their daughters remnants of their Chinese heritage. Throughout the course of the novel, the mystery of the mother-daughter relationship is revealed to the reader by various means. First, such a strong connection can only be the product of an essential, timeless, emotion called love: She loved you very much, more than her own life (Tan 29). Unfortunately, in Chinese culture, mothers rarely say I love you and find little to no time at all to provide for their daughter's emotional needs. Such attitudes occasionally lead the children to sense that My mother did not treat me this way because she didn't love me. She just had a hard time showing her love for me (Tan 45). As well, the link is also nourished in other ways, such as the swift protection of a mother's young: She grabbed my hand back so fast that I knew at that instant how sorry she was that she had not protected me better (Tan 111). There are other ways in which the mystery of the mother-daughter relationship is uncovered. Because of a mother's enduring love, they often put up high expectations that are often hard to meet. As well, in the case of Waverly and June, a mother's love is expressed in the novel by proudly showing off: From the time we were babies, our mothers compared the creases in our belly buttons, how shapely our earlobes were, how fast we healed when we scraped our knees... (Tan 64). In any case, every small act or gesture done out of deep love for one another, strengthens the bond, that is enkindled at birth. They are frightened. In me, they see their own daughters, just as ignorant, just as unmindful of all the truths and hopes they have brought to America. They see daughters who grow up impatient when their mothers talk in Chinese, who think they are stupid when they explain things in fractured English. They see daughters who will bear grandchildren born without any connecting hope passed from generation to generation. (Tan 31) Culture greatly influences the youth of today as American circumstances considerably influenced the daughters of the novel. In some instances, the Western culture dominates as the mothers strive on, in its shadow: ...and because I remained quiet for so long now my daughter does not hear me. She sits by her fancy swimming pool and hears her Sony Walkman, her cordless phone... (Tan 64). Ying-Ying ponders upon the fact that, She follows my Chinese ways until she learned how to walk out the door by herself and go to school (Tan 289). Because of heavy resentment on the mother's part, in some instances, the American culture is frowned upon and is stereotyped as having morbid thoughts (Tan 105). Many problems, especially embarrassment, surface when the younger generation attempts to become absorbed into a new culture, while the parents insist on clinging to their old ways. The daughters experience troubles while trying to cope with their immigrant parents. There is an obvious language barrier that may result in feelings, such as that of Jing-mei: These kinds of explanations made me feel my mother and I spoke two different languages, which we did. I talked to her in English, she answered back in Chinese (Tan 23). Often, the daughters feel ashamed. The people who embarrass them and whom they resent are their parents: I wish you wouldn't do that, telling everybody I'm your daughter (Tan 101). The young ladies later realize that it is childish to think that way, and they focus on the future, rather then on past mistakes. The children feel that their mothers nag constantly when moral issues are concerned, for example, in the case of a divorce. An-mei prefers that her daughter talks and works out her personal problems with her husband. If Rose's husband leaves her, then ultimately she must resort to a divorce. Regardless of what the circumstances are, mothers are diligently looking out for the well being of their daughters: ...she'd do anything to warn me, to help me avoid some unknown danger (Tan 108). The mothers of the novel try their best to provide for their daughters, but this is taken for granted at times. Lindo explains at one point that inside I am ashamed. I am ashamed she is ashamed. Because she is my daughter and I am proud of her, and I am her mother but she is not proud of me (Tan 291). ...but I couldn't teach her about Chinese character. How to obey parents and listen to your mother's mind... Why easy things are not worth pursuing. why Chinese thinking is best. No, this kind of thinking didn't stick to her. She was too busy chewing gum, blowing bubbles bigger than her cheeks. Only that kind of thinking stuck. (Tan 290) A mother's hunger is to inject what is left of her way of life. Obedience is first and foremost amongst the mothers: Only two kinds of daughters, those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient Daughter! (Tan 153). Materialistic needs are not worth pursuing but finding yourself is: With all these things, I did not care. I had no spirit (Tan 286). Other times,in trying to instill what is left of the Chinese heritage, the American way of life is blended in, but alas, I wanted my children to have the best combination: American circumstances and Chinese character. How could I know these two do not mix? (Tan 289). The characters of the novel, The Joy Luck Club, unravel the intricacies of combining a Chinese heritage with American circumstances and tell of the relationships between mothers and daughters. The strong bond, that is present amongst the characters, will infinitely outlast all obstacles. From each generation, all of the women are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way (Tan 241). There are advantages and disadvantages to growing up with American circumstances, as well as learning and obtaining Chinese character, but one must be chosen over the other to be free. I think about two faces. I think about my intentions. Which one is American? Which one is Chinese? Which one is better? If you show one, you must always sacrificethe other (Tan 304).

Word Count: 1156


A Motherly Role

A reoccurring theme in Amy Tan's novels is mother-daughter relationships. In each of her three novels she represents different roles of the mother and the effects of each; The Joy Luck Club depicts mothers living through daughters, The Kitchen God's Wife portrays mother teaching daughter through past experience, and finally The Hundred Secret Senses displays non-existence of the mother in the relationship.

This excerpt from The Joy Luck Club shows what kinds of things, from real accomplishments to the uncontrollable features of nature.

"Auntie Lin and my mother were both best friends and arch-enemies who spent a lifetime comparing their children. I was one month older than Waverly Jong, Auntie Lin's prized daughter. From the time we were babies, our mothers compared the creases in our belly buttons, how shapely our earlobes were, how fast we healed after we scraped our knees, how thick and dark our hair was, how many shoes we wore out in one year, and later, how smart Waverly was at playing chess, how many trophies she had won last month, how many cites she had visited" (27).

Jing-Mei, the piano player in The Joy Luck Club, felt the most pressure from her mother, because her mother had to follow behind the word of the prodigy in town. '"Of course you can be a prodigy, too '" Jing-Mei's mother, Suyuan, tells her after receiving the news of Waverly, the chess prodigy (141). The expectations for Jing-Mei have heighten now that her mother's friend's daughter has been held in such a spotlight, as to be called a prodigy. Suyuan takes it upon herself to make her daughter rise above the accomplishments of her peers, and prove to the mothers their family is high in the running competition, whether Jing-Mei approves or disapproves. Suyuan decides that with piano lessons she and her daughter will rise above Lindo and Waverly. Jing-Mei only sees tedious lessons and hours of practice, but her mother envisions proudly sharing success stories between friends, comparing and convincing other mothers that her daughter, Jing-Mei, was indeed the best.

Every detail and aspect of their lives were picked out an compared and for the one daughter that lost these comparisons, a lowered self-image was the result. Jing-Mei never believed in herself, because she felt, since her childhood, she had failed her mother.

"In the years that followed, I failed her so many times, each time asserting my own will, my right to fall short of expectations. I didn't get straight A's. I didn't become class president. I didn't get in to Stanford. I dropped out of college.

For unlike my mother, I did not believe I could be anything I wanted to be. I could only be me" (155-156).

For the mothers this competitive nature was meant to build confidence and secure the success of their daughter, for the weaker and less confident personality, like Jing-Mei's, the inability to come out on top, effected her self-image and her capabilities for her success. It is her childhood failures that molded her adult life, she never won as a child and it became the same when she was an adult.

The competition between the families are intense. One mother reports magniloquent success stories of their daughter and another mother returns her news to surpass the last.

'"She bring home too many trophy, lamented Auntie Lindo that Sunday. "All day she play chess. All day I have no time do nothing but dust off her winnings." She threw a scolding look at Waverly, who pretended not to see her.

'"You lucky you don't have this problem," said Auntie Lindo with a sigh to my mother.

And my mother squared her shoulders and bragged: "Our problem worser than yours. If e ask Jing-Mei was dish, she hear nothing but music. It's like you can't stop this natural talent" (148-49).

Such debates are common, and a similar element in all gossip was, as this excerpt so distinctly shows, was fractiousness.

Through the piano Jing-Mei carries the responsibility of not only her mother but the entire Woo family. Jing-Mei does not consider this as a privilege, but as an unwanted burden. "I felt as though I had been sent to hell," was her remark after the suggestion of lessons (46). The daughter's opinions about lessons are not as enthusiastic as her mother's, but Jing-Mei must, as an act of a daughter, do as she is told. If Suyuan is successful in presenting her daughter as accomplished, then Jing-Mei will win favor from her mother's friends. If the mothers feel they must try to transcend Jing-Mei's accomplishment by "suggesting" their daughters to display their talent, like Suyuan did after hearing of Waverly, then Suyuan has met her goal.

When a disappointing outcome of failure and disgust is given, the emotional trauma is not an event easily forgotten. Often times the result ends in anger toward the mother and the feeling of rejection. Questions like these from Jing-Mei to her mother often arise, '"Why can't you love me? I'm not a genius! I can't play the piano. And even if I could I wouldn't go on TV if you paid me a million dollars!'" (146). By the reaction of Jing-Mei two observations can be made; one, that she only feels love from her mother with accomplishment, and two, the difference in their thinking. China raised Suyuan, would want to make a spectacle of a talented daughter, while American raised Jing-Mei, even with such a notable ability, would be satisfied with herself without such an announcement.

Through the relationship between Suyuan and her daughter, Amy Tan clearly suggests Chinese mothers rely on success to establish status. Other's thoughts determine their statue, and the mother will go to extremes to be accepted in the high flown Chinese community.

Unlike Suyuan and Jing-Mei of The Joy Luck Club, Winnie and Pearl of The Kitchen God's Wife, learn about each other's secrets; instead of tension and pressure as large factors in the relationship, love and understanding come into view. Through flashbacks of Winnie's life in China dealing with an abusive cold hearted, and womanizing husband, Pearl recognizes the strength and wisdom of her mother.

"And in my father's eyes, I had been perfect, his "perfect Pearl," and not the irritation I always seemed to be with my mother" (48). Never could it have been that Winnie did not love Pearl. Because of Winnie's horrid past her possible over protection of Peal might have been mistaken as "irritation". Maternal instinct drives Winnie to protect her daughter. "So you see, I did not have a mother to tell me who to marry, who not to marry. Not like you. Although sometimes, even a mother cannot help her daughter, no matter what." If Pearl were to ever go through what her mother did, Winnie would not be able to forgive herself for allowing such a catastrophe to happen. "That man considers himself first, you second, and maybe later you will be third or fourth, then never" (134). She shares with Pearl after recognizing the familiarity with Wen Fu.

As Winnie reveals the conclusion of her story and Pearl reveals her secret of her illness, the understanding between the mother and daughter has reached its peak and all those around them are witnesses. "And now you are closer, mother and daughter, I can already see this"(524).

Although adversity has filled Winnie's past, through her strength she is able to share it with her daughter and together they will continue to learn about one another.

In what critics is her most unusual novel, Amy Tan presents a mother daughter relationship with the absence of the mother; perhaps it is because the mother is white, which is unique to The Hundred Secret Senses.

Olivia is the daughter of a Caucasian mother and Chinese father, who dies early in her childhood. Olivia's mother spends much of her time dating men. Consequentially she feels neglect. "And my mom usually put his wishes above anyone else's" (10). Soon Kwan, Olivia's half sister from China comes to America to live with them, and Kwan takes the place of her mother.

"With Kwan around my mother could float guiltlessly through her honeymoon phase with Bob. When my teacher called Mom to say I was running a fever, it was Kwan who showed up at the nurse's office to take me home. When I fell while roller-skating, Kwan bandaged my elbows. She braided my hair. She packed lunches for Kevin, Tommy, and me. She tried to teach me to sing Chinese nursery songs. She soothed me when I lost a tooth. She ran the wash cloth over my neck when I took my bath" (12).

To Olivia, no matter how much Kwan did for her and how little her own mother cared for her, Kwan cold never begin to substitute their mother. "To Mom, Kwan was a handy baby-sitter, willing, able, and free" (11). Olivia's mother was so intensely preoccupied she failed to notice the need of her own daughter. "I should have been grateful to Kwan. I could always depend on her. She liked nothing better than to be by my side. But instead, most of the time I resented her for taking my mother's place" (12).

In Olivia's situation, her mother-daughter relationship is hardly one at all. Even unsuccessful attempts with men seem to occupy her, so greatly she fails to see her daughter grow into a woman. Kwan is the only caretaker of Olivia and she builds Olivia into a strong woman.

Tan does an incredible job giving dramatically different aspects of what is essentially the same, the building of a strong woman though the bond of mother and daughter. Each case is unique, but the outcome of the daughters in all of the novels was a positive one. After familiarizing oneself to each scenario, Winnie and Pearl seem to be the closest, but all three end in happiness and strength of a daughter who had grown into a woman



literature that explores another culture serves as a vast and


learning experience. By providing material that not necessarily


to the reader's background, a multicultural curriculum opens up


opportunity for a reader to absorb the material as is, without the


of previously gained information or prejudices. Such


have a tendency to immediately interest and captivate the


and therefore can easily integrate in the book cultural and


facts that will be remembered. The Kitchen God's

Wife by Amy


is a perfect example of a fictional novel in the American Literature


that expands the students' knowledge of Chinese culture. The


contributes to the reader's understanding of pre-World War II


customs and exposes to the reader information about political and


events in China during the World War II time period. While


a wealth of information, the novel still manages to retain a f!


plot that keeps the reader entertained and interests him or her


continuing the reading.

The Kitchen God's

Wife opens

up as a simple modern day narrative

about a family to which a modern

day reader can relate. The story leads

into a flashback, which

almost immediately begins to shower the reader

with examples of

Chinese culture and intricate explanations of Chinese


This overwhelming amount of cultural information is closely


into the plot, which combined allows the reader to, without


it, understand and remember facts about Chinese ways.


the reader is wrapped up in a world where polygamy and


are commonly accepted practices, and where all customs are


to be practical. As the story unwinds, the reader is bombarded


all these multicultural facts, and virtually without realizing it,


or she is exposed to a wealth of information.

Not only cultural

but also political and social events are

presented throughout the

book. The war between China and Japan is

constantly mentioned,

remaining in the background during most of the book.


to Japanese and Chinese tactics, meetings, bombings, and


help are constant. All the time battles are mentioned as well as


chronology of the events of the war. Important facts such as city


are noted and in some cases details are given. For example,


of casualties were presented during a discussion of Japanese


of a Chinese capital city - the information goes almost


by the reader, yet it remains the back of one's mind and serves


a fact which in widens the reader's scope of knowledge.

Amy Tan's

book is filled with historical notes. Such things as

social conflict

in China and the morals of people of that era are

constantly mentioned

and whole sub plots in the book are dedicated to

accounts dealing

with social conditions and relations. A whole portion,

for example,

is devoted to Winnie's, the main character's, father. The


goes from being a powerful and rich to a poor and ruined man. The


tale of why and how the father got to be that way is included in


book, providing the reader with insights about the time period,


and social politics.

Reading literature that explores

another culture is very important

to today's teens, so it is very

beneficial to include books such as The

Kitchen God's Wife

in American Literature curriculums. Today's teens are

raised on

mostly American backgrounds with American heritage and American


Because of the vast size of this country and the diversity of


people, the teens do not get an adequate exposure to history and


of other countries. It is very important to broaden and diversify


minds, and placing books with as much information in them as


Kitchen God's Wife into American Literature

curriculums is an

efficient way to get teenagers to broaden their