The Deathly Embrace: Orientalism and Asian American Identity

By Sheng-Mei Ma | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
The Chinese Siamese Cat
Chinoiserie and Ethnic Stereotypes

I was never able to precisely describe my discomfort with Amy Tan until I chanced upon her children's books — The Moon Lady (1992) and The Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), both illustrated by Gretchen Schields. Schields's graphics are an amalgamation of the style of chinoiserie, on the one hand, and of ethnic stereotypes of Chinese, on the other. Both sources for Schields's creation are Orientalized images of China. Chinoiserie idealizes Cathay, a mythic China; ethnic stereotypes demonize Chinese. The representation of China is hence polarized between two frozen moments — a timeless golden age of ritualistic festivity and a debased recent past of the Ching dynasty. The contradiction between the two Chinas recalls the coexistence of Charlie Chan, the good and entertaining detective, and Fu Manchu, the evil Oriental, in American popular culture. The West simplifies the other in stark black-and-white contrasts in order to situate itself squarely in the middle, resisting the evil heathens while aided by the loyal Asian servant. The female counterparts to the two archetypal males are the geisha Madame Butterfly, eager to please, and the Dragon Lady, eager to displease.

This chapter contends that Amy Tan partakes in the creation of a new, “alternative” Orientalism. To prove this, Schields's illustrations provide a starting point because the paintings embody what lies behind Tan's mass appeal. Tan is actually in an inextricable double bind. Having grown up in the 1960s when an ethnic consciousness movement permeated the United States, particularly her home city of San Francisco, Tan must have felt compelled to come to terms with the issue of ethnicity as an eminent

-95-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Deathly Embrace: Orientalism and Asian American Identity
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 185

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.