Marginalized Female Characters in Geling Yan's Novels

Geling Yan严歌苓 (1958- ) is a Chinese-American author. Since 1985 she has produced a steady stream of novels, essays and scripts. She herself migrated to the United States in the 1980s, and various displaced female characters have appeared in her novels. 
This paper focuses on two novels The Lost Daughter of Happiness扶桑 (1996) and Little Aunt Crane小姨多鹤(2006). Their female protagonists, respectively, are Fusang扶桑and Tatsuru Takeuchi竹内多鹤.  Fusang is sold as a Chinese prostitute in San Francisco in 1870; and Tatsuru, a Japanese girl, is sold in Manchuria in 1945, she is bought to bear children of a Chinese man. One shared feature is that they are far away from their motherland; another is that they are sexually enslaved; however, they do not appear to be badly affected by the similar torments that they suffered. 
This paper makes an analysis of displaced women in these two stories. When encountering the most unlikely of circumstances, Takeuchi and Fusang learn to accept any difficulties and continue to live their lives as well as possible. Despite their marginalization that is apparent to the reader, the two characters’ life strength has been highly addressed. The origin of their strength is their adherence to the Confucian idea of goodness being similar to water. Thus, the unique beauty of females in Yan’s writing will be examined.

Keywords: Geling Yan, marginalization, women



  • East Asian Studies