American Knees

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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American Knees by Shawn Wong, was a different type of story that focuses around an Asian American male. Asian American fiction is usually written about the women, family, or the immigrant experience. Wong, however, focuses his story around an unusual topic, the Asian American male. The Asian American male is often not written about, nor if it is there are heavy stereotypes imposed on them. The author places the story in a rather modern time period, and takes a radical approach in characterizing his main character Raymond.

This story was very different than the other types of Asian American drama that is normally read. The book's main character is a male character named Raymond. The beginning of the story is of him going through with his lawyer about his divorce. Divorce is not such a hot topic amongst the Asian American community, so he is pretty much placing his character in a new situation.

By depicting Raymond going through a divorce, he is depicting him as being assimilated, and losing his culture. The divorce rate is much higher amongst White Americans compared to Asian Americans, and by Raymond following this pattern, he is portraying Raymond to following White American trends. Raymond's divorce is to a Chinese woman, and he makes references like maybe he was getting divorced because she was Chinese also, as if he was almost regretting his marriage to another Chinese woman. After his divorce to his wife, Raymond became the "first" of a lot of things in his family. He was the first to probably marry outside of his race, and the first to have gotten divorced. These types of situations are very new to the Asian American community, and this time it is in the perspective of the Asian American male, and not the woman.