The clash of cultures, the fusion of bloodlines

  Since the first batch of Chinese arrived in the American continent, they have brought the history, culture and way of thinking of the ancient civilization to this brand-new country. Chinese people have never stopped using their pens to express their thoughts on this country, especially Chinese female writers, whose literary creations have received widespread attention and recognition. The first stage was from the end of the 19th century to the 1960s. The earliest and most representative first-generation female writer was Huang Yuxue. Her “Hua Nu A Wu” (1945) was the first to be recognized in the United States. Invited by the US State Department to make a speech tour in Southeast Asia. The second stage was in the 1970s and 1980s. Tang Tingting was undoubtedly the most representative figure. Her “Women Warriors” (1976) and “China Guy” (1980) both won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The author has also been nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The third stage is from the late 1980s; from the early 1990s to the present, Amy Tan is undoubtedly the brightest new star among them, her “The Joy Luck Club” (1989) won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the best in 1991 Novel Award, etc., and her second novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife (1991), became one of the best-selling novels in the United States upon its publication.
  Most of these Chinese female writers seek material from family events, and finally upgrade to the conflict and fusion of two heterogeneous cultures. Amy Tan sees the struggles of women and the transition from estrangement to integration between mothers and daughters in the cultural conflicts and gaps between China and the United States. In her second novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife, as a descendant of the first generation of Chinese immigrants, she described the life experience and mental journey of a Chinese mother who had a rough experience in the mainland and an American daughter who had cultural confusion in the United States. Incisively and vividly.
  ”The Kitchen God’s Wife” features her daughter, Pearl, as the main narrative protagonist, who concealed her multiple sclerosis condition from her mother, who also concealed from her daughter her unhappy marriage with her first husband, Wen Fu, in China. , and her second husband, American Jimmy Louie, helped her come to the United States from her painful ordeal in China. The mother is still Chinese, while the daughter is completely American. There is a deep cultural and psychological barrier between the two. This cultural theme of disputes and conflicts is not only particularly reflected in Amy Tan’s works, it is almost a motif, sung repeatedly in many overseas Chinese literatures, and lingering in the hearts of overseas wanderers.
  Conflict between Chinese Ethics and Western Values ​​In
  Chinese Confucian culture, the “Three Principles and Five Constants” and “Three Obedience and Four Virtues” are emphasized, and Chinese women are required to “obey the father before marriage,” “obey the husband after marriage,” and “obey the son after the husband dies.” The mother Jiang Wenli in “The Kitchen God’s Wife” does not honor the “three obediences and four virtues” in the book. Jiang Wenli was born in a wealthy businessman’s family in Shanghai in the early 20th century. Because her mother was the second concubine and she eloped with her lover, she was thrown to her uncle’s house in Chongming in a fit of rage by her father. . After she grew up and got married, her husband was a narrow-minded, selfish and stingy abuser. Although he was a pilot, he was illiterate and abused her in every possible way. He went out to eat, drink, prostitute, and gamble, and he ignored the life and death of his own daughter at home. Jiang Wenli couldn’t bear it anymore and decided to divorce. When they came to Shanghai, she had fantasized about relying on her father’s power to get rid of her marriage with Wen Fu. But the old father who became a traitor and went bankrupt needs the support of his son-in-law who served as a soldier in the Kuomintang. She had to swallow her anger again, and it was not until her father died that she got the help of an American who loved her, Jimmy Louie, and came to the United States. In China’s marriage, the mother did not “follow the husband after marriage”. When she came to the United States, after her husband died, she did not rely on any of her children, and she was self-sufficient in her own flower shop. There is no “subordinate” after the death of the mother and husband.
  Although mother Jiang Wenli was not a woman who consciously rebelled against feudal ethics, everything she did was in line with American values ​​of freedom, equality and democracy. The “natural right” is also what the mother finally enjoys. China’s feudal ethics have been completely liberated in the United States. Such a storyline makes American readers who emphasize “God helps those who help themselves” have strong reading expectations.
  In the conflict between the two values, the mother finally chose the western value system. At the same time, the author arranged for the American Jimmy Louie to give his mother selfless love and help. Jimmy is a Western male, burly and well-mannered, advocating freedom, equality, and democracy. The mother is an oriental woman, beautiful and intelligent but ruled by a tyrannical oriental husband, lacking love and security. Through Jimmy’s love and emigration, the mother’s help in escaping patriarchy is ultimately understood by Orientalism as the West’s liberation of the East. Orientalism believes that the East always represents backwardness, primitiveness, mystery, and peculiarity, and is mostly a symbol of women, while the West is a symbol of reason, progress, science, and civilization, mostly men. At the beginning of the 20th century, Western civilization finally discovered and rescued Eastern civilization. Amy Tan’s “The Kitchen God’s Wife”, to some extent, caters to the orientalist mindset. This is also in line with what Westerners want to see in the East.
  Cultural Conflict and Separation between Mother and Daughter
  ”Mother’s love for daughter filial piety is a variant of father-son ethics and one of the most important attributes of Confucian family ethics in traditional culture. Chinese writers are also good at reflecting on how traditional culture is through the embodiment of mother-daughter filial piety ethics. shape the Chinese people, and reflect the difference between the old and new cultures and the Chinese and Western cultures.” In Amy Tan’s famous work “The Joy Luck Club”, the author used the delicate brushstrokes unique to women to write about the relationship between mother and daughter in the background of Eastern and Western cultures. How the relationship between them moves from estrangement to integration and understanding. In her second best-selling novel, she still reflects on the joys and sorrows of different cultures through the relationship between a first-generation immigrant Chinese mother and a native-born American daughter.
  In “The Kitchen God’s Wife”, in addition to depicting the conflict of ethical values ​​between the East and the West, the mother and daughter, who are related by blood, also do not understand each other in the melting pot of the two cultures. In Chinese cultural tradition, “family” not only represents the power of parents over their children, but also means that children depend on them. “Blood relationship” is accompanied by the emergence of “filial piety”, the so-called “filial piety comes first”. But at a moment when daughter Pearl was “full of cynical fury” at 14, she did something her mother would find it hard to forgive. Daughter refuses to mourn dying father Jimmy. “I don’t want to mourn the man who lay in the coffin, the sick man who was emaciated, moaning and feeble, searching my mother with horrific eyes until his death. He was nothing like my father. , my father was so charismatic, so strong, so kind, so generous, and always laughing.” “I ran up Columbus Avenue with tears in my eyes, all the way to the bay, regardless of the staring at me. My tourist. As a result, I missed the funeral.” Because of this, the relationship between the daughter and her mother has been very tense. As the text says: “We both won, and we both lost.”
  After marriage, the daughter’s visit to her mother was just a routine thing. On the way from her mother’s home to her own, Pearl “looked out the window anxiously. The scenery passing by: the reservoir, the undulating hillside, and the same house that I’ve passed by hundreds of times, never knowing who lives in it. Pass after pass, everything is so familiar and yet So unfamiliar, it is the distance between me and my mother that separates us.” The distance in between is the cultural difference and estrangement. Although her daughter Pearl has a Chinese face, she grew up in the United States since she was a child, and her way of thinking and behavior are American-style. She advocates that parents and children are equal, and that parents have no absolute authority over their children. And the mother’s discipline to her is still Chinese-style, and needs to be strictly obeyed and obeyed. Once the daughter resists, the mother feels that it has violated the Chinese concept of “loyalty and filial piety”, not to mention not to look at her dying father Jimmy. China is simply absurd, an unforgivable sin. She didn’t know that her daughter actually loved her father, but the way she expressed it was different.
  The fusion of bloodlines bridges the gap
  There is an old Chinese saying: “Blood is thicker than water”. Indeed, in the thousands of years of historical changes in China, clanism has played a huge role, and in the conflict and estrangement of cultures, blood ties are also the best glue for Chinese immigrants who have migrated to other places. Although China only exists in her daughter Pearl’s almost vague memory, after all, her Chinese appearance and ethnic identity are indelible; although the United States is where she lives now, “China” is more symbolic and specific. Unconscious “home”.
  No matter how the cultural gap arises, there is always the most inseparable bloodline that maintains the mother-daughter relationship. When my mother was finally cleaning the room, she saw something unexpected. She found that her daughter had written the date of her father’s death on a card covered with a black veil. At that time, the mother thought: “Only then did I realize that I was wrong. I want to call Jane (ie my daughter) immediately and tell her, now I know that you were sad and you cried, not in your face You cry in your heart. You love your dad.” The mother immediately understood her daughter’s anger and despair when she didn’t say goodbye to her dying father. The daughter did not comfort her father through actions, but she has always deeply cherished him in her heart.
  The daughter carried out a cultural search through her mother’s narrative, and recalled with her mother what kind of vicissitudes of life and emotional entanglements her mother had experienced in this ancient land of China before she understood her mother better. Through this cultural root search and spiritual training, the daughter consciously seeks and confirms her own belonging in reality and spirit. The theme of seeking roots has been explained by the author in the previous book “The Joy Luck Club” through the stories of four pairs of mothers and daughters, and “The Kitchen God’s Wife” continues to trace through the life chain of “mother and daughter”. Amy Tan’s theoretical view of literature and art jumps out of the single thinking mode of “American narrative” or “Chinese memory”. She stands on the standpoint of cultural integration and casts and reflects the cross-cultural characteristics of Chinese literature “The Kitchen God’s Wife”.
  The mother’s love and care penetrated into the daughter’s body continuously through the blood, and the daughter was finally bathed in the mother’s love or the unique family blood cohesion in China. Daughter Zhu Zhu is willing to use Chinese herbal medicine to treat multiple sclerosis, and her mother also gave her a female bodhisattva “Mo Chou” with a meaning. This conversation about the meaning of cultural roots finally allowed the integration of Chinese blood to eliminate cultural barriers.