Quest for Love through Self-Exploration: Edna Wu’s Women Narrators’ Search for Fulfillment of the Body and Soul in the New Land

Heping Zhao


Love, gender, sex, and sexuality are omnipresent and constantly intertwined with political and racial issues and other aspects of humanity in each one of Edna Wu’s three books: Clouds and Rain: A China-to-America Memoir (1994), Two Eves in the Garden of Eden and a Male Mother (A Screen and a Play) (2006), and A Single-Winged Bird (2010). A Chinese immigrant, Edna Wu painstakingly examines what Jonathan Spence calls the “erotic and intellectual fulfillment” for her narrators in this new land of freedom. She, more than any other writers, male or female, who have left China and set up homes in America, uses a combination of genres and forms—from fiction to poetry and from memoir to drama—in exploring the Chinese immigrant’s experience that embodies acute conflicts between the old and the new, the restricted and the free, and the East and the West. She is equally free in utilizing bilingualism in her writing to reveal the emotions of her characters and to enhance the crippling effects of the very act of uprooting oneself from one place in order to settle in another. These techniques that she so adeptly employs allow her to absorb deeply in her soul search in each of the three works. In this paper I attempt to analyze the theme of universal erotic love Edna depicts in the fictionalized experience of her narrators in the three works. Specifically, I elect to focus on the feministic perspective unique to Edna in seeking self-realization through unbounded means and approaches. In so doing I want to argue that, insofar as the purpose of migration is to start anew, women immigrants as portrayed by Edna seek their newness and renewed selfhood through a range of experiments unknown to them in the world they have come from. The free exploration of their own bodies and sexuality constitutes a major and primal part of these experiments.

DOI: 10.5901/ajis.2013.v2n8p752

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Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies ISSN 2281 3993(Print) ISSN 2281-4612(Online)

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