Pearl S. Buck's Chinese Women Characters

Pearl S. Buck's Chinese Women Characters

Pearl S. Buck's Chinese Women Characters

Pearl S. Buck's Chinese Women Characters

Synopsis

"A study of characterization, this book examines images of Chinese women in five of Pearl S. Buck's novels. It argues that these characters are typical and individualized to different degrees and that the degree to which a character is typical or individualized is determined by the overall themes of the novel in question. Therefore, characterization is not studied in isolation. Rather, it is investigated in relation to other aspects of the novels. As a result, the reader will find that Buck's female characters, with their different degrees of individuality and typicality, form a realistic picture of Chinese women." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Pearl Sydenstricker Buck (1892–1973) is one of the most renowned American writers. She enjoys both high acclaim and recognition from the literary community and great popularity from readers, especially during the thirties through the sixties. While her recognition and popularity testify to her literary achievements, they alone do not fully reveal her uniqueness as an American writer and her unparalleled contribution to world literature in general and American literature in particular. She was, most importantly, an author who existed “in one world and not of it, and belonging to another world and yet not of it” (Buck 1954, 51).

Although American-born (in Hillsboro, West Virginia) and Americaneducated (B.A., Randolph-Macon Woman's College, 1914; M.A., Cornell, 1926), Buck spent her childhood and adolescent years in China—from the age of four months to seventeen—and later lived and taught in China irregularly between 1910 and 1934, when she took up permanent residence in America. This firsthand experience enabled Buck in most of her works to “present to us China as the Chinese sees it, but in language (of both lip and mind) which we can understand” (Bentley 1935, 793), serving as a bridge between the East and the West.

In her mission to introduce, primarily through literature, the real China to Westerners, Buck was especially successful in presenting its people— among whom the women stood out most vividly. in her thirteen novels that have Chinese settings and Chinese main characters, Buck depicted a large range of Chinese women: from imperial women of the ruling class to servant women who are at the bottom of the society; from urban women to rural women; from old, traditional women to new, liberated, and educated women. This book will study the characterization in five of Buck's novels: East Wind: West Wind (1930), The Good Earth (1932b), The Mother (1934), Pavilion of Women (1946), and Peony (1948b), concentrating on the typicality and individuality of the characters in them. Among the most impor-

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