We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for your visiting. I feel guilty but helpless about how those facts might influence my reading preferences, especially since I’ve been charged with introducing college students to literature.Tan even gives her two names, one that ties her identity to each culture.
Waverly narrates, “I thought it was a trick question; I was seven according to the American formula and eight by the Chinese calendar.” She has a solution, of course: “I said I was born on March 17, 1951.
That seemed to satisfy him.” But Waverly veers toward American behavior as she pursues chess.
What cultural innovation could be more appalling than torture?
It is an ugliness, which means excellence only makes it uglier.
She doesn’t even let her characters fully recognize them.
In fact, she never once uses the word “culture.” Instead, she embeds these ideas in the details—description, action, characterization—a narrative technique originally developed by realists such as Flaubert, whose goal was to be “present everywhere and visible nowhere” in his stories.
The turtles show a basic incompatibility between Chinese and American values, and it shows the Chinese community’s readiness to defend their culture.
This dynamic is carried to the extreme in the passage about torture.
I was delighted by Tan’s hilarious, acerbic portraits of the Chinese mother, full of pride and confusion and dislocated old-world values, speaking in her brusque broken English.
As she tugs knots from Waverly’s hair, for example, Waverly teases her ruthlessness by asking about Chinese torture.