To Go in Order to Come Back: A Comparative Analysis of Wooden Fish Songs and The House on Mango Street

Xiaoxue Wendy Sun

Abstract


Each ethnic text carries its own unique force. A glimpse of the otherness of the other can produce new perspectives on our own faces in the great mirror of culture. Though different in culture and ethnicity, Sandra Cisneros and Ruthanne Lum McCunn share the same confusion about their multicultural identity. Their works both focus on the themes of cross-cultural gender tension, identity shaping and community building. McCunn concludes that individuals can only thrive if they inherit and understand their own culture. Afterwards, they should cross-pollinate their own tradition with new perspectives from other cultures. Cisneros emphasizes the role of writing for female achievement, and proposes that after personal success, one should come back to their community and help others who were left behind.

 

The world of Wooden Fish Songs and the world of The House on Mango Street seem completely different, yet both works echo the same challenges and deserve comparative attention. Former scholars were influenced by the idea that the East/West comparison is impossible, since it is believed that the philosophical and interpretative discourse governing one of those worlds are untranslatable and cannot be successfully applied to the other world. This is maybe the reason why previous critics have only focused on their works separately. This essay compares the two works through close reading. It discusses their role as ethnic authors, and concludes the importance of comparative studies of the works of women of color.

 


Keywords


cross-cultural gender tension, identity shaping, community building, women of color, ethnic author.

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