Literary 'bone collectors': recovering the voices of an older generation of Chinese women in British Columbia (1923-1967) in works by Wayson Choy, SKY Lee, and Denise Chong

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Zhang, Ruoxi
University of Lethbridge. Faculty of Arts and Science
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of English
Drawing from theories of Chinese indigenous psychology, subjective well-being, and cultural identity, this study examines the representations of Chinese women immigrants in four texts by Wayson Choy, SKY Lee, and Denise Chong. These women lived through the Canadian Chinese-exclusion period of 1923-1947, and many witnessed the introduction of the points-based system in 1967. Situating my examination in the social, historical, and cultural contexts of the multiple worlds where they lived, I suggest that through these characters, who use their own language/dialect to tell their own stories and demonstrate their own values, these texts literally and figuratively give this generation of women a voice and present them as complex humans. In this way, the authors are actually ‘bone collectors’; they excavate neglected aspects of Canadian history to find the ‘bones’ of their elders and attempt to piece these together, while being aware that they are not fully capable of doing so.
Chinese women immigrants , Chinese exclusion period , Chinese-Canadian literature , Chinese community , Wayson Choy , SKY Lee , Denise Chong