Literature Essay, Research Paper
Reading literature that explores another culture serves as a vast andpositive learning experience. By providing material that not necessarilyrelates to the reader’s background, a multicultural curriculum opens upthe opportunity for a reader to absorb the material as is, without theinterference of previously gained information or prejudices. Suchmaterials have a tendency to immediately interest and captivate thereader, and therefore can easily integrate in the book cultural andhistorical facts that will be remembered. The Kitchen God’s Wife by AmyTan is a perfect example of a fictional novel in the American Literaturecurriculum that expands the students’ knowledge of Chinese culture. Thenovel contributes to the reader’s understanding of pre-World War IIChinese customs and exposes to the reader information about political andsocial events in China during the World War II time period. Whileproviding a wealth of information, the novel still manages to retain a f!ictional plot that keeps the reader entertained and interests him or herin continuing the reading. The Kitchen God’s Wife opens up as a simple modern day narrativeabout a family to which a modern day reader can relate. The story leadsinto a flashback, which almost immediately begins to shower the readerwith examples of Chinese culture and intricate explanations of Chinesecustoms. This overwhelming amount of cultural information is closelywoven into the plot, which combined allows the reader to, withoutrealizing it, understand and remember facts about Chinese ways. Immediately the reader is wrapped up in a world where polygamy andpolytheism are commonly accepted practices, and where all customs arebelieved to be practical. As the story unwinds, the reader is bombardedwith all these multicultural facts, and virtually without realizing it, heor she is exposed to a wealth of information. Not only cultural but also political and social events are
presented throughout the book. The war between China and Japan isconstantly mentioned, remaining in the background during most of the book. References to Japanese and Chinese tactics, meetings, bombings, andAmerican help are constant. All the time battles are mentioned as well asa chronology of the events of the war. Important facts such as citytakeovers are noted and in some cases details are given. For example,counts of casualties were presented during a discussion of Japanesedestruction of a Chinese capital city – the information goes almostunnoticed by the reader, yet it remains the back of one’s mind and servesas a fact which in widens the reader’s scope of knowledge. Amy Tan’s book is filled with historical notes. Such things associal conflict in China and the morals of people of that era areconstantly mentioned and whole sub plots in the book are dedicated toaccounts dealing with social conditions and relations. A whole portion,for example, is devoted to Winnie’s, the main character’s, father. Thefather goes from being a powerful and rich to a poor and ruined man. Thefull tale of why and how the father got to be that way is included in thebook, providing the reader with insights about the time period, events,and social politics. Reading literature that explores another culture is very importantto today’s teens, so it is very beneficial to include books such as TheKitchen God’s Wife in American Literature curriculums. Today’s teens areraised on mostly American backgrounds with American heritage and Americancustoms. Because of the vast size of this country and the diversity ofits people, the teens do not get an adequate exposure to history andculture of other countries. It is very important to broaden and diversifyteenagers’ minds, and placing books with as much information in them asThe Kitchen God’s Wife into American Literature curriculums is anefficient way to get teenagers to broaden their horizons.