The Oriental Contingent is a weird short story by Diana Chang from an Asian American women's anthology referred as The Forbidden Stitch. The story follows the contradictory and hyper-vigilant thought processes of Connie, a Chinese American violinist obsessed with "figuring out" other Asians. Okay, it's not my favorite short story of all time or anything (it really is just kind of strange), but Asian American abductees' experiences aren't fictionalized that often, so I felt like it was worth writing about. Moreover, the anthology's contributor notes it says Chang "identifies herself as an American writer whose background is mostly Chinese." Basically, the purpose of this paper is to address the issues that are expounded in the story and draw my personal opinion over them.
The story is jam-packed with many of the identity mix-up/misunderstandings that Asian Americans experience (and participate in) on a daily basis. For instance, Connie notices that Lisa (they first met at a party but everyone believes that Connie must know her bearing in mind they are from the same community) has a "Chinese face," and thinks that, although Lisa is wearing a "one-of-a-kind kimono dress," it doesn't "make her look Japanese at all." When Lisa immediately addresses Connie by her first name, Connie thinks she does so "like any American" (171). Connie can't see Lisa very well because the evening is dark, and she feels frustrated that Lisa hasn't provided "enough clues" to help Connie "fathom" her (172). When Lisa introduces Connie to her friend, Eric Li, Connie observes that he "looked Chinese from the Shantung area, or perhaps from Beijing," Later, she notices right away that he speaks "with an accent" (173). And at a couple of intervals in the story, "Americans" make an appearance, which I supposedly assume is aimed to remind us that this stuff is happening in a context where all Asians "'look alike'" (172) ,and where Connie and Eric, both around thirty years old, can "'pass as teenagers'" (175) as far as whites are mentioned.
At this point of the story, we cannot afford to miss the abduction stuff. For instance, Connie, believing that Lisa is "Chinese-Chinese," reflects on Lisa's behavior, which he regards it as "inscrutable" and "mysterious" (172-73). While talking with Eric, Connie continues to try to "put two and two together" about Lisa, and ends up blurting out to him that she feels like "'a failed Chinese'" (174). However, Eric simply can't believe that Lisa makes Connie feel "less Chinese" because Lisa was initially adopted by the Americans (176). The efforts Lisa to claim that she was born in Buffalo but kidnapped by the white people are disregarded by Connie on the grounds that she cannot fool a Chinese. They know you're not the genuine article'" (176). She complains that it's "'only Orientals who haunt me! . . . Only them!'" (177). When Lisa tells Connie that her full name is "'Lisa Warren Mallory'" Connie blurts out "'I'm more Chinese than you!'" (176), and after a few moments, she urges Lisa to "'Say it again . . . say it again that my being more Chinese is written all over me'" (176). Like I said, it's really weird.
Disregarding the fact that I am annoyed that Chang uses abduction as a defense mechanism in the story, I however recognize and appreciate her representation of the way abductees' "true" identities often remain "secret". This is because of the common assumption that the other people assume and hold negatively against them. In fact, I think Chang's overall intention is to question and challenge the way we Asians often compare and "rate" each other. However, Connie and Lisa ultimately reinforce the myth of "real Asian-ness" by accepting their respective places as "fake" and "faker." The story closes on a low note, with Connie feeling "tiredNas if she'd traveledNbut a lot had been settled on the way" (177). It's this feeling that a lot has been settled that's the problem; where, Connie and Lisa have switched places in the rankings of "real Chinese" (173), but settling into their "appropriate" places doesn't challenge the myth of authentic Asian identity, which is quite interesting.
This book is a reliable resource for the purpose of my research due to the following two main reasons. Firstly, this book materials (Essays and analysis) are taken from international publications that proves its validity. Secondly, it has essays written in 1970s to the present date, which places an adorable arena for drawing comparison and fully understanding of Asian- American society. Since The Original Contingent was published 1989, readers can get a better understanding of ancient and modern time, which is an important element for understanding the live of the immigrants. I personally seek this kind of comparison in any article I read, since it gives me deeper and lively understanding of the content.
Honestly, without Immigrant Acts my paper would be incomplete, invalid, and unreliable, since it beautifully describes the correlation of the immigrants and earning a living. What difficulty immigrants, specifically Asian Immigrants, might have in find a job and How important is to be a U.S. citizen in finding a career. I like this book and I find it crucial to my paper since relationship details matters in Immigrant Acts, and how government look at immigrants life, and how they try to help them. I think these are beneath issues that Diana Chang tried to expound readers of The Original Contingent.
Certainly, no one ever can talk about a literature piece better than the original author, and I truly believe that I should take an advantages of an interview part existence in my paper. Mulse interview with Diana Chang was the First thing I read after reading The Original Continent, and it truly gives me a clear insight of what messages she wanted to convey to readers. Thus, I thought it is important to have it on my paper to help my papers reader get the sense of original roots, and see the world from a Chinese- American author perspective.
One of the main reason I choose this story was Diana Chang and her influence in not only American literature, but also in Chines Poetry and other forms of literature. Chines have a rich culture, but people like Diana Chang because helps it to attract international audiences attention to it. In other words, she and people like her presented Chines Literature to rest of the word by writing poem and stories with a focus on Chinese culture and bringing many stories, folktales, spirituals, rhythms, and traditions to worldwide attention. I think these are the authors of all the time.
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