Adjustment and Displacement in Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter: An Analytical Study

نوع المستند : المقالة الأصلية


Banha University


The paper investigates the impact of the materialistic American life upon the second generation Chinese American protagonists whose cultural roots are uprooted to adapt to the Western values, faith and orientation. The paper traces the failure of the second generation Asian American protagonists in Amy Tan's The Bonesetter's Daughter (2001) to adapt to and assimilate into the new life in America as a result of the lacking harmony between their Chinese legacy and their American culture. They cannot attain real happiness or peace of mind till they reconcile with their authentic Chinese self represented in mutual understanding, sympathy and kindness, values that constitute the way out for Chinese American protagonists to survive modern crises of displacement and alienation. Indeed, they cannot separate themselves from this American hegemonic culture, as they consider the host country a shelter against homelessness and poverty. Consequently, they fall easy prey to the American myth of easy and swift materialistic success that alienates whole families . The paper highlights the danger of modern materialism and absolute selfishness which ignore familial and spiritual salvation exemplified in Amy Tan's novel, The Bonesetter's Daughter, attempting, in vain, to fulfill the materialistic American dream, ignoring the indispensible values of the ancestors like familial unity.
Duality of nationality with biculturalism constitute a paralyzing crisis for the Chinese figures with whom the author identifies. The writer has successfully dismantled the Self/Other duality through mirroring the misery and conflict of the second generation characters in addition to the protagonist's striving to define new borders unexplored yet. Living with difference was explored in the research on the cultural level to denote the importance of accepting the other who is part Chinese and part American. Ruth decided to reconcile with the once rejected Chinese self. LuLing had to show submissiveness to the whites, otherwise they had no place for shelter. Life's hardships and racism in China and the States obliged LuLing to be eager to what she left behind not existing anywhere else; namely love and recognition through writing memoirs in The Bonesetter's Daughter. This influences the protagonists' quest for identity and mapping the self. There must be some midway between the American and Chinese cultures; however, the protagonist is torn between her American way of living and responsibilities towards her Chinese family whose leaders sometimes have difficulty in assimilating into the American way of living such as speaking the language of the host country to exemplify the lack of cultural harmony.  The past of the protagonist using flashbacks focused on the ethnic past highlighting Said's theory of exile and nostalgia to purity and simplicity values.

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