The Barrier Struggle
My favorite parable is "Feathers From a Thousand Li Away". This is my favorite parable because it shows how such a small thing as a feather can have links back to such a big history. The feather symbolizes the struggles of their life and China and pilgrimage to America. "'This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions.' And she waited, year after year, for the day she could tell her daughter this in perfect English." (Tan 4).
"I wanted my children to have the best combination: American circumstances and Chinese character. How could I know these things could not mix?" (Tan 289). Lindo Jong fears that Chinese identity has come to constitute merely Waverly's exterior, while American identity dominates her interior self. Lindo blames herself for Waverly's lopsided duality. This is my favorite quote because it shows how the mothers expect so much of their children, like trying to be two different people at once. Thus when Lindo fears that the American and Chinese cultures cannot mix, she is contemplating the combination of two extremes. In reality, each identity is itself mixed: just as the American culture is not wholly about autonomy and liberty, the Chinese culture is not wholly about passivity, obedience, and self-restraint. Nonetheless, the challenge of finding a way to combine aspects of both into one’s own unique personality is a challenge faced not only by Waverly, but all of the novel’s daughter characters—even, to some extent, by the mother characters, as they become increasingly accustomed to their lives in the United States.