Reminiscing in white in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone

Title: Reminiscing in white in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone
Author: Szmańko, Klara
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2018, vol. 44, iss. 2, pp. [131]-143
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
License: Not specified license

Notice: These citations are automatically created and might not follow citation rules properly.

The article focuses on the representation of whiteness in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone (1993), in particular on how the aesthetic and the socio-historical strata of the novel intersect, how by saturating the imagery of Bone with whiteness, Ng conveys the first person Chinese American narrator's positionality and the positionality of other Chinese American characters as members of the Chinese American community and members of broader American society. The images involving whiteness compose a kind of the palimpsest overwritten with personal and communal ethnic watermarks as well as repressed, surfacing and semi-articulated history of Leila's family that she channels into the narrative, having engaged in the process of mentally retracing the past events and recovering the material evidence or rather what remains of it and what she believes will lead her to definitive answers. On the level of narrative imagery, whiteness is intricately interwoven with the traumas plaguing the narrator's family. Explicitly, whiteness represents death, mourning, rejection and erasure, entailing marginalization suffered by Chinese Americans because of their non-normative racial and ethnic status. Yet, implicitly, whiteness is also a constituent element of the images which facilitate the process of healing – mainly bones and paper. Narrative imagery involving whiteness contributes to the bridging of the past and the present, forming a bridge between generations, a kind of rivet that allows to at least partly retrieve personal wholeness and recapture the broken promises.
[1] Baiada, Christa (2007) Living death: Loss, mourning, and ethnic renewal in contemporary American fiction. Dissertation Abstract. The City University of New York, iv–16.

[2] Casson, Ronald W. (1997) Color shift: Evolution of English color terms from brightness to hue. Color Categories in Thought and Language. New York: Cambridge University Press, 224–239.

[3] Chang, Juliana (2005) Melancholic remains: Domestic and national secrets in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone. Modern Fiction Studies 51 (1): 110–133. | DOI 10.1353/mfs.2005.0022

[4] Chang, Yoonmee (2010) Chinese suicide: Political desire and queer exogamy in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone. Modern Fiction Studies 56 (1): 90–112. | DOI 10.1353/mfs.0.1657

[5] De Bary Nee, Victor and Brett (1973) Longtime Californ': A Documentary Study of an American Chinatown. New York: Pantheon.

[6] Dillon, Sarah (2007) The Palimpsest: Literature, Criticism, Theory. New York: Continuum.

[7] Eakin, Paul John (1993) Malcolm X and the limits of autobiography. African American Autobiography. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.

[8] Ellison, Ralph (1972) Invisible Man [1952]. New York: Vintage.

[9] Gee, Allen (2004) Deconstructing a narrative hierarchy: Leila Leong's 'I' in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone. MELUS 29 (2): 129–140. | DOI 10.2307/4141822

[10] Getz, Joshua M. (1998) Devouring imagery and sense of identity in the 'Oriental' immigrant novel: Joy Kogawa's Obasan, Albert Swissa's The Bound, Fae Myenne Ng's Bone, and Eli Amir's Scapegoat. Dissertation Abstract. The Pennsylvania State University, iii–14.

[11] Goellnicht, Donald C. (2000) Of bones and suicide: Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Café and Fae Myenne Ng's Bone. Modern Fiction Studies 46 (2), 300–330. | DOI 10.1353/mfs.2000.0027

[12] Kim, Thomas W. (1999) 'For a paper son, paper is blood:' Subjectivation and authenticity in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone. MELUS 24 (4): 41–56. | DOI 10.2307/468172

[13] Kingston, Maxine Hong (1986) China Men [1980]. New York: Ballantine Books.

[14] Kingston, Maxine Hong (1977) The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts [1976]. New York: Vintage.

[15] Le Blanc, Diane (2000) Neologism as oppositional language in Fae Myenne Ng's Bone. Rocky Mountain Review, Spring 2000.

[16] Lee, Chang-rae (1996) Native Speaker [1995]. New York: Riverhead.

[17] Morrison, Toni (1992) Playing in the Dark. Whiteness and Literary Imagination. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

[18] Mrożek, Sławomir (2003) Emigranci. Warszawa: Oficyna Literacka Noir sur Blanc.

[19] Mura, David (1995) Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity. New York: Doubleday.

[20] Ng, Fae Myenne (1994) Bone [1993]. New York: Harper Collins.

[21] Smith, Sidonie (1998) Autobiographical manifestos. In: Smith, Sidonie and Julia Watson (eds.) Women, Autobiography, Theory. A Reader. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 433–440.

[22] Sollors, Werner (1986) Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture. New York: Oxford University Press.