Assignment: Compare/Contrast with The Jade Peony

Compare and contrast Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For with Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony.

Here are some possible jumping-off points to develop your argument:

    1. Consider the different representations of intergenerational tensions and cultural hybridity (see Emily Johansen and Christopher Lee). How do individuals, histories, and cultures come into conflict, or remain in tension in these texts? How do cultural locations, such as theatres, art exhibits, markets, and games become loaded with significance in relation to questions of cultural values, and their transformations through time? How do personal, familial, and cultural narratives inform or transform various experiences?
    2. Consider the different models of nationalism in these stories. Use the articles by Michael Buma, Johansen, and Lee—each of which include descriptions of national and multicultural discussion—to help develop your ideas. What does each story highlight in the other concepts of nationalism? What does their juxtaposition illustrate about changes in Canadian society between these two eras?
    3. In both books the spaces of the city play a central role in characterization and thematic developments. Consider the differences in use and accessibility of city spaces, historical timeframe, and the age of narrators/characters.

Works Cited

    • Buma, Michael. Soccer and the City: The Unwieldy National in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For. Canadian Literature 202 (2009): 12–27. Print. (PDF)
    • Johansen, Emily. Streets are the dwelling place of the collective: Public Space and Cosmopolitan Citizenship in Dionne Brand’s What We All Long For. Canadian Literature 196 (2008): 48–62. Print. (PDF)
    • Lee, Christopher. Engaging Chineseness in Wayson Choy’s The Jade Peony. Canadian Literature 163 (1999): 18–33. Print. (PDF)