Wayson Choy; the Jade Peony

Chinese immigrants in Canada were treated poorly during the depression. Life was hard, but acceptance and the family’s bond kept spirits high and helped them pull through the tough times. In The Jade Peony, the writer, Wayson Choy, tells three children’s perspectives of their family of Chinese immigrants dealing with death and acceptance during the depression.
Everyone should read the Jade Peony because it develops important themes throughout the novel using the symbols and settings. The theme of thing’s not always being what they seem is portrayed through the symbol of Gold Mountain and the setting and conditions of the depression.Talk in China caused the immigrants to believe that Gold Mountain would make them rich. Families piled on boats to come to Canada in hope for a better life for their children. The would soon discover they had immigrated to over work and be under payed. The reputation of Gold Mountain was nothing more than a fantasy. Canada was talked about in China as the place for a better life.
When Chinese immigrants came to Canada they would find themselves affected by discrimination and the depression. Children however were unaware of this.Parents would put up a front and act as if life is going as it should to save their children from the harsh reality. Times were tough, and parents struggled to find jobs to provide for their family. The kids were protected from the truth so they could enjoy life worry free from adult issues. Children’s lack of knowledge, Canada and Gold Mountain are relations to the theme. Poh Poh has a good grasp on the theme of accepting fate.

She shows an understanding of the theme throughout the novel. When the white cat with red eyes shows up at the window Poh Poh knows its her time to pass.She claims it’s the Juggler (her lost lover) coming to take her to the after life. Throughout the novel Poh Poh continues saying, “I too old! Die soon! ” She knows her time is coming and choses not to fight fate and let herself pass with little struggle. Wind chimes in Chinese culture are put at the window of the house where someone has died to help their soul pass onto the after world. Poh Poh begins to gather objects to make her wind chimes. She uses the Jade Peony as the center piece.
Poh Poh is preparing for her death, again allowing nature to take its course and let herself die eacefully. The theme of accepting fate relates to most scenes in the novel. The families live in the depression, yet they go about their lives adapting to the situation. They do not fight the conditions they are forced into. They make the best of it and use what they can to pull through the hard times. Wayson Choy has portrayed the theme throughout the novel using Poh Poh and other events. Poh Poh is a strong character who’s attitude reflects her acceptance of the life cycle.
All three perspectives give evidence of the importance of family.A direct example of that is Jung Sum. Jung Sum was not born from Liang’s mother or Step Mother. He was adopted into their family after a few years abuse from his biological parents. The characters in the Jade Peony are willing to accept outsiders into their family and treat them like their own. On top of not being blood related, Jung Sum is gay. Poh Poh knows from the start yet still takes a liking to Jung Sum.
Early on in the book Poh Poh says, “Jung Sum is the moon. ” The moon represents yin which is female.Poh Poh realizes early on that Jung Sum is feminine and accepts him for it. The boxing ring was where Jung Sum could fight and show how strong he was. He always wanted acceptance from Frank, an older boy of who he had taken a liking to. He tried to be this strong and determined boxer in hope of being accepted by the older boys. He even takes a drink of their beer hoping he can become one of them.
He shows his strength in attempt to get accepted by his peers. His family is more than willing to accept him no matter how weak or strong he is.The symbols in the novel help make the importance of family an evident theme. Although the narrators were naive in their perspectives, the Jade Peony shows the life of a Chinese family in Canada during the depression. They are faced with discrimination and conflict which help create a compelling story. The important themes in the story are created using the symbols and settings written about in the Jade Peony. The families struggle in Canada and their ability to stay unified and enforce themes makes the Jade Peony by Wayson Choy a must read for all.

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