Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Review of East Wind, West Wind by Pearl Buck

Name of Book: East Wind, West Wind

Author: Pearl Buck

ISBN:  1559210869

Publisher: The World Publishing Company

Type of book: 1920s, China, East, West, values, interracial relationship, Asian male/ White female, struggles, duty, obligation

Year it was published: 1930 (Version I have January 1944)

Summary:

East Wind: West Wind is told from the eyes of a traditional Chinese girl, Kwei-lan, married to a Chinese medical doctor, educated abroad. The story follows Kwei-lan as she begins to accept different points of view from the western world, and re-discovers her sense of self through this coming-of-age narrative.

Characters:

I'm not sure how I could describe the characters, except they all change throughout the novel; Kwei-lan changes into someone who disliked and was unhappy with Western culture into someone who does accept Western traditions and values. She also looks up to her husband all the time, one attitude that she doesn't change at all. Kwei-Lan's husband remains completely Westernized, although I guess he drew a line at marrying a foreigner. My analysis of Kwei-lan's brother is that at first he saw Mary as a prize of sorts and perhaps rebelled against the duty and obligation of the family, but then as things beyond his control happened and he was asked to do the impossible, he changed completely and at last fell in love with her. In an odd way too Mary changed, first wanting to give up her nationality and everything completely, but then she found out its an impossible task to do.

Theme:

"Think only of this- with what joy of union he came into the world! He has tied together the two hearts of his parents into one. Those two hearts, with all their difference in birth and rearing- differences existing centuries ago! What union!" (277)

Plot:

This is in first person narrative told by Kwei-lan and is divided into two parts; one is where Kwei-lan marries the husband who studied in America, and her struggles and even acceptance of Western customs, while the second half covered the period of when her brother returned with a foreign bride named Mary, as well as Kwei-lan's struggles to look beyond Mary's exterior into why the brother fell in love with her and had done everything for her.

Author Information:

born
June 26, 1892 in Hillsboro, West Virginia, The United States

died
March 06, 1973

gender
female

genre
Literature ; Fiction, Biographies ; Memoirs, Children's Books


About this author

Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces" and the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1932 for The Good Earth.

Opinion:

I have a difficult time putting my thoughts into words when it comes to this novel. All I can remember is that I wanted this book last year, badly. I should have gotten it in January but then the book got lost, so I ordered it from a different place and on the 13th of February, the day before Valentines Day, I finally received it. I also end up wondering about 'Till Morning Comes which portrays a Chinese male with a white female from 1940s until 1970s. While the character from 'Till Morning Comes receives a welcome to the family, this is not what Mary experienced when she married Kwei-Lan's brother and traveled to China. It's a beautifully written novel about the things that an interracial couple experiences in China during the early 20th century. What is also interesting is that I think at first the brother was proud that she chose him because he saw her as a prize, but as the struggles mounted, I think he stopped looking at her that way and instead saw her as a person.

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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