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Return of the "Great Absentee": the Perilous Positionality of Asian American Fatherhood in Gus Lee's China Boy and Honor and Duty

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Authors
Chung, Hyeyurn
Issue Date
2007
Publisher
서울대학교 미국학연구소
Citation
미국학, Vol.30, pp. 179-206
Keywords
Asian American masculinityfatherhoodminority identity formationassimilation/resistanceregenerative value of violencethe ghettoized space ofthe racial marginsrepresentation of black-Asian conjunctionChina BoyHonor and Duty
Abstract
This essays examines Gus Lee's ambivalence towards Asian American fathering in the formation of Asian American masculine subjectivity. Rife with father figures for young Kai Ting, Lee's two semi-autobiographical novels are constructive sites in which to parse the body paternal in relation to the masculinization of a "China boy." In lieu of K. F., his defunct Asian immigrant father, Kai relies on his boxing coaches at the local YMCA and his neighborhood friend Toussaint (Toos) LaRue, in particular, to survive a troubled childhood in the black ghetto. In China Boy (1991), Kai comes to prioritize black expressions of masculinity and aspires to become a black boy like Toos. In Honor and Duty (1994), Kai enters West Point upon his father's wishes; at West Point, arguably the quintessential hub of hegemonic men, Kai reconsiders his intial dependence on blackness to reclaim his masculinity and consequently shifts his allegiance from the other men of color to the fraternity of hegemonic men. Read in tandem, Lee's two novels facilitate a constructive critique of the Asian American father and how he factors into the convoluted processes of minority identity formation.
ISSN
1229-4381
Language
English
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/91087
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Researcher Institutes (연구소)American Studies Institute (미국학연구소)미국학미국학 Volume 30 (2007)
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