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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

16. The Search For Identity

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Activities: Author Activities

Maxine Hong Kingston - Teaching Tips

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  • Many students seem to automatically sympathize with a story's protagonist. While Wittman Ah Sing is a sympathetic character in many ways, you may want to discuss his own areas of blindness or prejudice. Consider, especially, his discussion of "F.O.B." Chinese Americans and his reasons for contacting Nanci Lee. Ask your students to think about why Kingston chooses to depict Wittman as she does. Consider that Wittman has one perspective, but the narrative on the whole may have another. Use this story to teach students how to distinguish the main character's biases from the text's.

  • Ah Sing is a fifth-generation Chinese American man. Look at the early-twentieth-century photographs of San Francisco Chinatown in the archive; these could be very similar to the San Francisco homes and neighborhoods of Ah Sing's ancestors. Compare these images to Ah Sing's descriptions of San Francisco and Chinatown in the 1980s.

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