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am 23. Mai 2000
The book vividly describes the author's strong personality,which has made her unique among Chinese American females of her time, and the main factor that shapes her process of thinking and individualism - her father's way of instructing his own children to do the proper things and to preserve the traditional Chinese values. Mainly, readers would see her world through her scope, through this book. As for me, I learn Chinese order of family and numerous great proverbs through this book. Many times I could picture the images described in the book. I enjoyed reading the book so much that, after reread so many times from the public library, I bought the book myself. Great cultural heritage.
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am 24. Dezember 2012
Originally published in 1945 and set in the San Francisco Chinatown this autobiographic novel by Jade Snow Wong depicts the problems of an American-born Chinese girl fascinated by Western culture on her way to be respected as an individual.
Predominantly set in the 1930s at the time of the Great Depression the main character Jade Snow Wong, the “Fifth Chinese Daughter”, is introduced. The author describes her experiences in the San Francisco Chinatown until the age of 24, tells us about important decisions in her life and the relation to Western traditions by placing all this in the Chinese cultural context. The reader gets to know about Jade Snow’s time at school and her first experiences with racial discrimination, her very strict education, living- and working conditions of the whole family, major decisions in life, simple Chinese traditions e.g. the preparation of a meal and major cultural differences like gathering bones of the dead.
Growing up Jade Snow’s openness to Western culture is also getting stronger. As Jade Snow starts attending American schools and working in Caucasians’ households she also begins to reflect upon her past as an obedient child. As she is exposed to the Western ways at the Whites’ houses, she starts to adopt some interests and many Western traditions become familiar.
Furthermore, the cultural context reveals the novel’s leitmotifs of “fear”, “education as the path to freedom” and the “fight for racial equality.” Fear is something that is omnipresent in Jade Snow’s childhood. Since the time her father had to go to hospital she fears to be given away because her mother needs someone to take care of her and if she had to remarry all children must be deserted. Out of this Jade Snow’s challenges appear: She wants everyone is to be proud of her and wants to show her mother that the poor predictions she once got on her children are wrong. Therefore Jade Snow puts enormous effort in her education. Likewise she wants to be seen as an individual who is not pushed in the position of traditional Chinese women and always longs for racial equality. The text, which is a blend of novel and autobiography, shows that you have a chance to succeed, if you really aim at something and work hard enough.
I enjoyed reading this novel because as an autobiographic text it is authentic and includes detailed descriptions. It does ties in with Chinese traditions and stereotypes and is situated in the San Francisco Chinatown. The further I read the more I liked the story because it tells the story of an obedient Chinese girl skipping grades to an “old maid” who refuses to agree on an arranged marriage, to a “mud stirring maiden” who does what she likes, to a woman running a business on her very own and being overly successful, to a woman who is finally regarded as an individual.
Still, I find the end very contradictory when Jade Snow’s father tells her that he has always wished his daughters had the Christian opportunity of freedom and individuality because in my opinion he has not put this notion into action before Jade Snow started her pottery business.
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am 17. März 1999
I first read Fifth Chinese Daughter as a high school assignment in 1967. I was taking a San Francisco history course. I read the book as required and then put it back in the library and moved on to other things. 20 years later I found a very used copy in a second hand book store and decided to give it another read. I am glad I did. Fifth Chinese Daughter is a story of growing up in one world and growing out into another. Jade Snow Wong was born into the family of a Chinese businessman who was also a protestant church minister. Her story is one of the tradition of a Chinese family where sons are valued and daughters seemingly less so. Jade Snow Wong overcomes the traditions of her family and her heritage and proves herself in the classroom. She also learns the independence required to progress in American society, taking odd-jobs throughout her high school career; finding herslef in constant contact with a very alien world she has up to then only seen at a distance, a world of American families. She faces critical choices in her college aspirations, when she has to decide between the University of California or San Francisco City College. Her choice of City College, was in the long run, one of her wisest choices because it moved her into a much more representative segment of American and San Francisco society. Her decision to attend Mills College was also a wise choice for it allowed her to develope her skills as a potter and lead her to a new vocation, far from the traditional ones of the period. Her war work in the ship yards is also extremely well told and is, again, an extremely important segment of American history that needs to be told. Jade Snow Wong emerges from World War II able to work as a potter and show her talents to a very interested public, and grow in the opinion and respect of her family. This is a story of persistence,love of learning, growth and at the same time it is a book of love and respect for her family. I highly recommend it to any student of American history.
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am 17. März 1999
I first read Fifth Chinese Daughter as a high school assignment in 1967. I was taking a San Francisco history course. I read the book as required and then put it back in the library and moved on to other things. 20 years later I found a very used copy in a second hand book store and decided to give it another read. I am glad I did. Fifth Chinese Daughter is a story of growing up in one world and growing out into another. Jade Snow Wong was born into the family of a Chinese businessman who was also a protestant church minister. Her story is one of the tradition of a Chinese family where sons are valued and daughters seemingly less so. Jade Snow Wong overcomes the traditions of her family and her heritage and proves herself in the classroom. She also learns the independence required to progress in American society, taking odd-jobs throughout her high school career; finding herslef in constant contact with a very alien world she has up to then only seen at a distance, a world of American families. She faces critical choices in her college aspirations, when she has to decide between the University of California or San Francisco City College. Her choice of City College, was in the long run, one of her wisest choices because it moved her into a much more representative segment of American and San Francisco society. Her decision to attend Mills College was also a wise choice for it allowed her to develope her skills as a potter and lead her to a new vocation, far from the traditional ones of the period. Her war work in the ship yards is also extremely well told and is, again, an extremely important segment of American history that needs to be told. Jade Snow Wong emerges from World War II able to work as a potter and show her talents to a very interested public, and grow in the opinion and respect of her family. This is a story of persistence,love of learning, growth and at the same time it is a book of love and respect for her family. I highly recommend it to any student of American history.
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am 18. Juli 1998
At first I found this book simple and slow, but as Jade Snow moved on through her life it was interesting to see through her eyes, life as a young Chinese girl raised in San Fran's Chinatown. For her age and time she made some remarkable movements as a double minority (Chinese and a woman) during war time. After reading the whole book I went back to reread her introduction which seemed to be a disclaimer of her humble bragging of all she had accomplished. No doubt she made some marvelous strides for herself, and as a representive of her community her accomplishments were enhancing. She reflects how she was raised and gleans the best to pass on to her children (as we all try to do) allowing them some of the struggles she herself grew from. One would hope however in the given day she has revised her stereotypical view of female/male roles and story of God's creation of races with skin color. Overall it was an enjoyable read, and helps to see the world from anothers perspe! ctive. She sends a stong and heartfelt message through her simple description that she could make her dreams a reality through perserverance and the knowledge her family had imparted to her.
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am 31. Dezember 1998
This book is one of the few which captures a lot of the emotions, both the joys and continuous angst which Americans of Asian descent of all ages still have to contend with, especially females. Her identity crisis and emotional turmoil give validation to the intense internal struggles which Americans born children of Asian immigrants wrestle with. Despite the fact that her story evolved decades ago, her issues still arise today, two generations later. I have re-read this book several times.
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am 28. Februar 1999
It's been ten years since I first picked this book up off the shelf and it still remains the best book I've ever read.
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