"The Jade Peony"

Essay by nosnatHigh School, 11th gradeB, November 2002

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A victim could be described as a person cheated, injured, or even fooled by circumstances. Yet it seems that the idea of victimization has become a symbol of Canada for Canadian authors. Margaret Atwood explains in, "The Victim Theory," that in most instances of literature, the central theme is "bare survival in the face of 'hostile' elements"(Atwood, "The Victim Theory" 77) Hence, for the French Canadians after the English took over, "it became cultural survival, hanging on as people, retaining a religion and a language under an alien government"(Atwood 77). Unlike the style of the Americans or the English, who hold out excitement and security, the Canadian literature can be seen on the opposite side of the spectrum with its unwanted anxiety. Accordingly, The Jade Peony, written by Wayson Choy, is a story about a Chinese family living in Vancouver, within the heart of Chinatown. The story presents the struggles and misfortunes that the characters have undergone, thus acknowledging the idea of survival.

As a co-relation to survival, Margaret Atwood introduces positions that make the character a victim, "First of which is denying the fact that you are a victim at all"(Atwood 79). In the second position, however, the character is a victim but believes that it is there only by Fate. Moreover, in Canadian literature, the survivor is not a victor or even receive triumph but has only the fact of knowing his ordeal; and sometimes, the obstacles that a character faces are not even external factors, but rather it is a spiritual survival. Therefore, The Jade Peony, written by Wayson Choy agrees with Margaret Atwood's "The Victim Theory." Jung-Sum is a victim, but denying the fact that he is makes him fulfill the first primary position. Jung-Sum was brought in to Canada, due to the war...