Return of the "Great Absentee": the Perilous Positionality of Asian American Fatherhood in Gus Lee's China Boy and Honor and Duty
- Chung, Hyeyurn
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 미국학연구소
- 미국학, Vol.30, pp. 179-206
- Asian American masculinity; fatherhood; minority identity formation; assimilation/resistance; regenerative value of violence; the ghettoized space ofthe racial margins; representation of black-Asian conjunction; China Boy; Honor and Duty
- 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.
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