The Cultural Aspects of "The Bonesetter's Daughter"

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One’s cultural background can affect the way they speak, live, and for an author, the way they write. Amy Tan’s works are direct reflections of this impact. As an Asian-American author, Tan uses the cultural values of Chinese women in American culture in her novels. In order to fully understand Tan’s writing I believe one first needs to understand not only Tan’s personal background but, the Chinese culture of which she is a product. Chinese culture is a male dominated culture that leaves women little freedom. Their only job is to make their male spouses content. Living with their traditional culture in American society, Chinese-American women suffer a conflict of culture. While their American husbands are active and assertive, they are passive and place their happiness entirely on the goodness of their spouses. In many cases, this passiveness can be seen as a weakness. Amy Tan’s personal background involves a constant struggle between cultures. Her tumultuous life began in 1952 in the predominantly white neighborhood of Oakland, California. Her parents immigrated to America just before the communist revolution in China in the late 1940s. Her father, John Tan, worked as an electrical engineer and an assistant minister at various Baptist churches. Her mother was a homemaker, taking care of Amy and her two brothers. Both of Amy Tan’s parents expected a lot out of their children, especially when it came to work and money. Amy was expected to become a neurosurgeon by trade and a concert pianist by hobby.3 When Amy Tan was fifteen years old, her father and brother Peter both died from brain tumors within six months of one another.1 After their deaths, Amy’s life radically departed from the median. Amy’s mother, Daisy, fell into a deep depression, even at one point trying to kill Amy. Amy herself rebelled against anything that resembled her Chinese roots. Tan even went as far as to wear a clothespin on her nose at night, while sleeping, in an effort to “westernize”...
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