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I think that this article not only tells about the exploration of narrator’s own cultural roots but also expresses the reconciliation with the mother who has passed away through her own experience in China.
In the article, the mother, the father, represents the traditional Chinese culture, and the daughter is the representative of the Western culture. As she said at the beginning of the article “All my Caucasian friends agreed: I was about as Chinese as they were”. The narrator is a second-generation immigrant who grew up in the United States and formed a strong contrast with the mother of a traditional Chinese image, perhaps because of the bad habits of some Chinese people or the rebelliousness of youth. She has been reluctant to admit that she has the fact of Chinese descent and has no intention to understand her mother’s past. Cultural identity refers to the characteristics of the cultural groups that people have formed since childhood, including world views, beliefs, values, ways of thinking, behaviors, and communication standards. Just like what her mother told narrator “Someday you will see. It’s in your blood, waiting to be let go.” Her mother was an immigrant from China, so she advertises Chinese culture and wants to educate her children in Chinese family education. She believes in the power of cultural roots and hopes that her daughter could understand Chinese culture in the future. The narrator who grew up in the United States regards the United States as its true home. She advocates and praises American culture. She believes that the Chinese language, customs, religion, culture, and emotions are all backward. The narrator grows up in the gap between Chinese and Western cultures, causing contradictions and divisions in her life. This caused the most fundamental conflict between mother and daughter. The cultural conflict between mother and daughter implies the collision of cultural identity and national identity.
Through her father’s narrative, she learned about her mother’s experience in the war years and the story of her two half-sisters. “No, tell me in Chinese. Really, I can understand.” Although this trip to China was not her voluntary, it made her first time eager to know the story about her mother. Her mother was on her way to escape, because her illness gave up her twin babies. When she was saved, she regretted giving up her children. When she arrived in the United States and had another daughter narrator, she put all her expectations on her. When the narrator knew that the mother was still insisting on finding her own daughters and coming to the United States and the inability to find her daughter made her mentally tortured. Also, when she understood the good meaning of the mother’s name and her name, she really understood the hope her mother had placed on her.
At the same time, she also knew why her father came to China with her. “When I said it was too late, that must have put a terrible thought in her head that her daughters might be dead. And I think this possibility grew bigger and bigger in her head, until it killed her.” Her father was very guilty about her mother’s death. He thought that it was his own words that killed his wife. So, after he read the letter from Shanghai, he talked to his wife’s friends. He decided to help his wife make up for her regrets.
Before the narrator and the sisters met, she imagined a lot of embarrassment and uncomfortable when meeting, even if the sisters turned from despair to anger because they could not wait for the mother, so she had to take the opportunity to come back. But in the end, when they really met, they were affectionately embracing each other, as if they were familiar with each other for a long time. When she said “And now I also see what part of me is Chinese. It is so obvious. It is my family. It is in our blood. After all these years, it can finally be let go.” This is echoing what the mother said to her before. Also, I think it didn’t literally mean that she became a Chinese people. It meant that she finally understood the culture behind her mother, and realized family was her root. This allowed her and her mother to reach a spiritual settlement.
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