Nate’s Long Paper Outline

Thinking about narratives of immigration in How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and The Kitchen God’s Wife

  • multilayered, cross-generational stories
    • what does it mean for a child’s story to be so entwined in the story of their parents?
    • Pearl coming to understand herself better through her mother’s story
    • but perhaps this suggests that children of immigrants are not so independent as they might like; for example the Garcia girls striving so hard for independence from their family and not quite making it
  • themes of language and bilingualism/biculturalism
    • dual-culture characters
    • Pearl grows up American with Chinese influences
    • Winnie grows up Chinese with English influences (the English garden estate, sundaes, etc.)
  • moments of embracing cultural heritage vs. moments of rejecting that heritage for self-preservation
    • i.e., Yolanda in DR pretending not to speak Spanish)
  • father figures and fraught parent-child relationships
    • Pearl finding out about her true father
    • Sofia rebelling from her father’s strict patriarchal ideas

There are lots of different directions I could go with this, comparing two stories about immigrant families that have a lot in common, despite being very different cultures. Although the suggested prompt links these together in that they both contain backstories in other countries, I would be most interested in thinking about the complicated parent-child relationships that exist in both. Both Pearl and the Garcia girls have complex relationships with their parents, and my essay would focus on how their immigrant identities affect these relationships.



Nate —

These are great observations.  “Bilingual and Cross-generational Entanglements” would be a good title for your essay, equally apt for KGW and HGGLTA, capturing the intertwined drama of parents and children, English and Chinese, English and Spanish.  The two novels diverge on a crucial point, though: whereas the entanglements allow for solace and healing in KGW, in HGGLTA they seem to have the opposite effect, leading to psychic instabilities and mental breakdowns.  An intriguing diveragence — I look forward to your analysis!

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