Shawn Wong's American Knees: Deconstruction of Male-Centeredness and Its Possibility

숀 옹의 『미국인의 무릎』 : 남성 중심주의 해체와 그 가능성

  • Received : 2014.06.16
  • Accepted : 2014.07.29
  • Published : 2014.08.31

Abstract

Considered as the first generation of the Chinese American male writers, Shawn Wong has often been tagged with the male-centered or cultural nationalistic writer for his first short novel Homebase since the 1970s. He has, however, shifted his own gender and cultural attitudes toward his male character in his second novel American Knees, published in 1995. By focusing on his second novel, this paper examines how Wong critically reconsiders the male-centeredness and cultural nationalism in a way to invalidate them in relationships among male and female characters in the formation of the Chinese American male's identity. Attempting to establish his own national and cultural identity as an American citizenship and the self-awareness of masculinity as a man, Rainsford Chan in Homebase believed that he could achieve his identity and masculinity with the chronological experiences related to his ancestors in American society. He even strictly erased the presence of female in his own identity formation. In doing so, he seemed to anchor his authorship at the discourse of the male-centeredness and cultural nationalist like other contemporary writers such as Frank Chin and Jeffrey Paul Chan who always strongly marked cultural tradition. By creating a non-conventional male character Raymond Ding with compromising and open-eared attitudes toward female characters, however, Wong dramatically changes the idea of representing the relationships between male and female characters in American Knees. In this novel, he suggests that the male character' identity can be properly formed not in the extreme reinforcement of masculinity or the ethnic-based cultural awareness but with the mutual understanding between male and female individuals regardless of ethnic and nationalistic biases. Consequently, Wong attempts to bail out of the male-centered images of the first generation of the Chinese American male writers through Raymond Ding.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : 부산외국어대학교