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IngratitudeThe Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature$
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erin Khuê Ninh

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780814758441

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814758441.001.0001

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The Filial Debtor

The Filial Debtor

Jade Snow Wong

(p.19) 1 The Filial Debtor

erin Khuê Ninh

NYU Press

This chapter provides a reading of Jade Snow Wong's Fifth Chinese Daughter, which closely critiques the logic implicit in intergenerational conflict. The beginning of Wong's autobiography invokes an exoticizing and problematic rhetoric of Chinese cultural otherness, and introduces her childhood experiences immediately into a discourse of cultural conflict or conflicting cultural expectations. In the narrative, that which is Chinese in association is often felt to be constricting, anachronistic, or developmentally arrested, while qualities considered American become synonymous with a versatile modernity and individual empowerment. This bias makes the autobiography no less than a prototype for the kind of intergenerational conflict narrative, which scholarship has been understandably criticized for its self-directed essentialism, and its eager adoption of Orientalist binaries.

Keywords:   Jade Wong, Fifth Chinese Daughter, intergenerational conflict, Chinese cultural otherness, cultural conflict, essentialism, Orientalist binaries

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