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Interracial EncountersReciprocal Representations in African and Asian American Literatures, 1896-1937$
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Julia H. Lee

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814752555

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814752555.001.0001

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Estrangement on a Train

Estrangement on a Train

Race and Narratives of American Identity in The Marrow of Tradition and America through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat

(p.48) 3 Estrangement on a Train
Interracial Encounters

Julia H. Lee

NYU Press

This chapter explores how the dynamics of interracial triangulation are taken up by Charles Chesnutt in his novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901) and by Wu Tingfang in his memoir America through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat (1914). Chesnutt and Wu delve into the sense of estrangement that arises when African Americans and Chinese confront each other in a space that symbolizes the nation's progress and freedom; and yet, is unjust in its spatial division of blacks and whites. The chapter focuses on how the estranging effects of train travel intersected with the estrangement produced by interracial recognition in The Marrow of Tradition and America. This juncture reveals how African Americans and Chinese are alienated from each other as communities with potential political common ground in order for an ideal American identity to maintain its racial exclusivity.

Keywords:   The Marrow of Tradition, Charles Chesnutt, Wu Tingfang, estrangement, African Americans, Chinese, American Identity

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