Rewrite the History of a Chinese – American Female: Narratology of The Lost Daughter of Happiness

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Fang Leya


In her novel The Lost Daughter of Happiness Chinese American writer Geling Yan depicts the life of a Chinese prostitute in US society one hundred years ago. By analyzing the narratology of the novel, this essay discusses the issues of the male gaze, as well as Orientalism from the perspective of postcolonial feminism. The resistance against the dominating male – Western narration in the US history prevails in the novel. In the first chapter of her work, Geling Yan evokes readers’ identification with her heroine in their cognitive experience by adopting the tactics of second – person narrative, which puts the reader at the site of an objectified Asian female. The trick turns the table on readers. Being different from the readers of American history books that record Chinese prostitutes, the readers of Yan’s novel are no longer the subjects of giving judgement. Instead, they are forced into an shocking illusion of being judged with naked body by an authority. With the superimposed points of view, Yan intentionally keeps the superimposed underpainting of male gaze and Orientalism, and re – imposes a new perspective to fight against those stereotypes of Asian females. In this way, Yan rewrites the cultural history of Asian – American female by substituting “history” with “herstory”.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Colonial, Postcolonial, Decolonial and Neocolonial Experiences:Rewriting Culture