"The Concubine's" Children by Denise Chong, includes personal comment

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 1996

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The Concubine's Children, by Denise Chong, is a true story about a Chinese family and how both physical and emotional distance can tear generations of families apart. We are presented with the lives of the children of three generations, starting with the oldest, the story of May-ying, a concubine, and her husband, fellow wives and children. She manages to have three children, two female and one deformed male. They override her with guilt because of her inability to bear sons, and she takes out her frustration on her children who are educated in English and Chinese. Refusing to learn English for herself, she relies on her children to communicate with the outside world. However, Winnie, one of the daughters, decides to immerse herself in nothing but schoolwork all the time to distract herself from the men and alcohol with which her mother is involved. She eventually marries and has a child, Denise, the author of the book.

This book has the author recount the story as an omniscient narrator. The author has told the story in a detached fashion, with the narrator rarely reacting personally to the events, even when they recount horrific events. This style of writing often cheapens the content of the story, making it seems rather impersonal, even for nonfiction. The book itself was written recently, using the author's grandfather's letters as a guide. The author wrote the book in an attempt to better educate herself about her Chinese heritage, and about a nation that seemed foreign to her, a place 'you'd find yourself if you dug a hold deep enough to come out the other side of the Earth.'

The idea conveyed by means of the story is how Chinese culture places the importance of family at an unsurpassed level and how this becomes the...