Fae Myenne Ng Bone Analysis

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The Significance of Paper in Chinese Experience in the United States Fae Myenne Ng’s novel, Bone, depicts a story of a Chinese immigrant couple with three grown daughters in San Francisco Chinatown during the 1960s. Leon Leong, the stepfather, was a paper son who enter into the United States by purchasing fake documents to create a “legal” identity as a Chinese American’s son born overseas. However, to Leon the purchased paper is more than a safe passage into the United States; it has cultural and transformative values. Although Leon retains his personal past and life in China in his heart, the paper son name “Leon” gradually transforms him into someone who integrates part of his real past and his fake present into his new hybrid identity.…show more content…
“For a paper son, paper is blood” (Ng 58). However, the significance of paper also comes in the form of political identity and community formation, which involves legal issues and maintaining the Chinese community in the United States. Paper binds non-biological people as family members. According to the “oldtimers” of Chinese culture, “all writing was sacred” (Ng 55). These sacred papers build a bond between Leon and other people such as Grandpa Leong, his paper father, and Leila. With this new identity comes with family responsibilities and non-biological family kinships. Coming to the United States under the faked identity of Leon Leong, Grandpa Leong’s son, Leon promised to bring Grandpa Leong’s bone back to China after his death. The paper established Leon as Grandpa Leong’s son and by promising to bring back the bones to China Leon was fulfilling his filial duty to Grandpa Leong, just like a real son to a real father. In the novel, Leila’s biological father deserted his family and went to Australia to make a fortune. For all those years, no tickets came in mail for sending Leila and her mother to Australia as he had once promised. Nevertheless Leon, connected to Leila only by a marriage certificate as her stepfather, “is the one who’s been there for

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