Agenda Terms Lecture: Sui Sin Far Discussion: Far: QHQ In-class writing: How and why does Far resist? What are the social implications of her doing so? Discussion/Writing: Essay #4
Terms Transsexuals: People who indicate that they are of one gender trapped in the body of the other gender. A person who has altered or intends to alter her/hir/his anatomy, either through surgery, hormones, or other means, to better match her/hir/his chosen gender identity. This group of people is often divided into pre-op (operative), post-op, or non-op transsexuals. Due to cost, not all transsexuals can have genital surgery. Others do not feel that surgery is necessary, but still remain a transsexual identity. a. Non-operative: People who do not intend to change their primary sex characteristics, either because of a lack of a desire or the inability to do so. They may or may not alter their secondary sex characteristics through the use of hormones. b. Pre-operative: People who have started the procedure to reassign their primary sex characteristics, but have not yet had the surgery. This covers both those people who have just begun the procedure and those who are very close to the actual surgery. c. Post-operative: People who have had the actual genital surgery
Transphobia: The fear or hatred of transgender and transsexual people. Like biphobia, this term was created to call attention to the ways prejudice against trans people differs from prejudice against other queer people. There is often transphobia in lesbian, gay and bisexual communities, as well as heterosexual or straight communities.
Persona: a character in drama or fiction or the part any one sustains in the world or in a book. Persona also denotes the “I” who speaks in a poem or novel. Plot: a plan or scheme to accomplish a purpose. In
• Point of view: a specified position or method of consideration and appraisal. It may also be an attitude, judgment, or opinion. In literature, physical point of view has to do with the position in time and space from which a writer approaches, views, and describes his or her material. Mental point of view involves an author’s feeling and attitude toward his or her subject. Personal point of view concerns the relation through which a writer narrates or discusses a subject, whether first, second, or third person.• Prose : the ordinary form of spoken and written language whose unit is the sentence, rather than the line as it is in poetry. The term applies to all expressions in language that do not have a regular rhythmic pattern.
Sui Sin Far, born Edith Maude Eaton, was the first writer of Asian descent published in North AmericaShe was born in England, in 1865 to a Chinese mother and anEnglish (white) father. Eatons mother was apparently schooled inEngland although she returned to China after her education wascompleted. Eatons father was a merchant who did trading in China; itwas on one of his business trips that he met and fell in love with hisfuture wife. According to Eaton scholars, Amy Ling and AnnetteWhite-Parks, "interracial marriage was taboo in both cultures[; thus,]theirs was an unusual union." At age seven, Eaton and her family leftEngland and immigrated to Hudson City, New York, and in the early1870s, settled in a Montreal suburb. She went to school until ageeleven and then continued her education at home. As the secondchild and oldest daughter of fourteen children, Edith Eaton spentmuch of her childhood helping her mother care for her siblings aswell as selling her fathers artwork in the city.
Eaton started her career at Hugh Grahams MontrealDaily Star newspaper as a typesetter at age eighteen.Her first short stories were published in the Dominion Illustratedin 1888; she also maintained her administrative duties as wellas submitted newspaper articles. It was in her journalisticwriting that Eaton openly identified herself as a ChineseAmerican and explained her biracial heritage to her readers.She wrote under the pseudonym Sui Sin Far, a childhoodnickname that means "water lily" in Chinese. Hersister, Winnifred Eaton, also a writer, used Onoto Watanna asher penname.
Yi Bu Wang HuaIn the mid 1890s, Eaton moved briefly to Jamaica, where she contractedmalaria, from which she never quite recovered. During the next tenyears, until 1909, she lived in Seattle and San Francisco. She wrote morearticles and short stories and gained a literary reputation. ChineseAmerican women were at the center of much of Eatons writing, and sheworked to break down cultural stereotypes. In 1909, Eaton moved toBoston where she compiled a full-length selection of short stories, Mrs.Spring Fragrance, which was published in Chicago in 1912. In1913, Eaton, stricken by horrible rheumatism and bad health, returned toMontreal. She died on April 7, 1914 and is buried in the ProtestantCemetery there. In gratitude for her work on their behalf, the Chinesecommunity erected a special headstone on her tomb inscribed with thecharacters "Yi bu wang hua" ("The righteous one does not forget China").
A Spiritual ForemotherKnown as "spiritual foremother of contemporary Eurasianauthors," Eaton has been the subject of twodissertations, a literary biography, and numerous articles.Notable Sui Sin Far scholars include S. E. Solberg, AmyLing, James Doyle, and Annette White-Parks.Amy Ling writes, "If we set Sui Sin Far into the context ofher time and place, in late nineteenth-century sinophobicand imperialistic Euro-American nations, then we admitthat for her, a Eurasian woman who could pass as white, tochoose to champion the Chinese and working-classwomen and to identify herself as such, publicly and inprint, an act of great determination and courage."
The Reception of Chinese by White AmericansTo appreciate the work of Edith Eaton fully, we must discuss its historical andsocial context, namely the reception of Chinese by white Americans beforeand during her period. Though the Chinese were never enslaved in thiscountry, as were Africans, they were brought here in large numbers asindentured laborers. The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) was only repealed in1943 and naturalized citizenship for Asians was permitted in 1954, long afterAfrican-Americans and American Indians were recognized as Americancitizens. Initially attracted to California by the discovery of gold in the mid-nineteenth century, by the l860s thousands of Chinese laborers were enticedhere to construct the mountainous western section of the transcontinentalrailroad. Almost from the beginning, prejudice against them was strong. Theywere regarded as an alien race with peculiar customs and habits that madethem inassimilable in a nation that wanted to remain white; their hard-working, frugal ways and their willingness to work for lower wages thanwhites rendered them an economic threat and thus targets of racial violence.
Spring Fragranceand OtherWritingsBy Sui Sin FarThis text includes “Leavesfrom the Mental Portfolioof an Eurasian”
Passing and Sui Sin Far“Ah, indeed!” he exclaims. “Who would have thought it at firstglance? Yet now I see the difference between her and otherchildren. What a peculiar coloring! Her mother’s eyes and hair andher father’s features, I presume. Very interesting little creature!”I had been called from play for the purpose of inspection. I do notreturn to it. For the rest of the evening I hide myself behind a halldoor and refuse to show myself until it is time to go home.Why does Far hide after this experience?How does this moment contribute to her identity development?
“Look!” says Charlie. “Those men in there are Chinese!” Eagerly I gaze into thelong low room. With the exception of my mother, who is English bred withEnglish ways and manner of dress, I have never seen a Chinese person. Thetwo men within the store are uncouth specimens of their race, drest in workingblouses and pantaloons with queues hanging down their backs. I recoil with asense of shock.“Oh, Charlie,” I cry. “Are we like that?”“Well, we’re Chinese, and they’re Chinese, too, so we must be!” returns myseven year old brother.“Of course you are,” puts in a boy who has followed us down the street, andwho lives near us and has seen my mother: “Chinky, Chinky, Chinaman, yellow-face, pig-tail, rat-eater.” A number of other boys and several little girls join inwith him.“Better than you,” shouts my brother, facing the crowd. He is younger andsmaller than any there, and I am even more insignificant than he; but my spiritrevives.“I’d rather be Chinese than anything else in the world,” I scream. Why does Far fight after this experience? How does this moment contribute to her identity development?
The greatest temptation was in the thought of getting far away from where I was known, to where no mocking cries of “Chinese!” “Chinese!” could reach.Here Sui seems to want to disappear. Given her desire to escape prejudice, why doesshe become a champion of the Chinese instead of “passing” as we know so manyothers do during this time? In other words, which of her life experiences compel her torefuse to pass as white? How does she become the woman who speaks the linesbelow? With a great effort I raise my eyes from my plate. “Mr. K.,” I say, addressing my employer, “the Chinese people may have no souls, no expression on their faces, be altogether beyond the pale of civilization, but whatever they are, I want you to understand that I am—I am a Chinese.”
QHQ: “Leaves from the MentalPortfolio of an Eurasian In what ways in Sui Sin challenged with racial hatred? How does Sui Sin deal with all the ridicule? Why does Sui Sin feel as though they won the battle even though [she] and her brother were hurt? In the story it says that Sui Sin’s sister becomes great friends with someone [. . .] even after they make a racist comment. She goes on to say that Sui Sin herself had “many such experiences”; why do they choose to ignore [racism]? Why does Sui not take more offense to the way she was treated? What was so different about her brother and sister that made her different even in her family?
Why did Sui Sin admit to Mr. K that she is Chinese?Why is it that Sui Sin’s has the strength to be herself and not pass?Why was it wise that Sui Sin’s father was blind and deaf to many things?Why does Sui want to finish her life in China?Did Sui Sin go to China and live there?
In-class writing: How and whydoes Far resist passing?• Far refuses to pass as white. Why? What convinces her to consciously and intentionally reveal her racial identity?• Consider how Far resists passing. Which behaviors can you specifically identify?