'I am my own person': a comparison of value changes between first and second generation Chinese American characters in three novels by Chinese American writers
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In this thesis, the following three contemporary fictional novels by Chinese American writers are being compared: Amy Tan's the Joy Luck Club, Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land, and Ha Jin's A Free Life. The comparison is limited to the themes of the generational gap between the first and the second generation of Chinese Americans, and continuity of values, or in other words the amount of conformity to ideas in American society. The themes in the novels are being approached from a perspective using sociological theories on these themes. The main question for this literary research is "What are the specific difficulties in the situation of second generation Chinese Americans as portrayed in the three fictional works?" The subquestion of the second chapter is "Does each of the writers make the subject of ethnical background and the generation gap between first- and second generation Chinese Americans a central theme in the novel? The subquestion of the third chapter is "Does each of the chosen books show more the continuity of values, traditions and ways of thinking of the 'immigrant culture' or show more of the change and adaptation of a second generation Chinese Americans to main American culture?" This chapter also deals with the writers' stance on the identity of a member of a minority group, and specifically the amount of choice each of the writers thinks individuals have in deciding their own values. To gain an insight in this, main characters from the novels are being used as a template.