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"Golden Humor"

Author WangJianXin
Tutor ChengAiMin
School Nanjing Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords "golden humor" story discourse free direct discourse free indirect discourse
Type Master's thesis
Year 2004
Downloads 227
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Known as a member of "the Gang of Four" and "an emerging author" in the Chinese American literary circle, Gish Jen has published two novels: Typical American (1991), Mona in the Promised Land (1996), and a collection of short stories Who’s Irish? (1999). Gish Jen shows great talent for writing in her first novel Typical American, which can be seen as a good example of a successful manipulation of "golden humor"— a specific kind of humor employed by some Chinese American writers to illustrate the frustration, humor, and eternal wonder of the immigrant life. Utilizing "golden humor", Gish Jen tells us a story of immigration, assimilation, and occasional tensions both inside and outside of the Chang family.This thesis undertakes the task of examining Typical American from two aspects of narratology, story and discourse, so as to probe into her intentional employment of narrative strategies that enriches the tradition of "golden humor" in Chinese American literature. Regarding the story, this thesis tries to investigate Gish Jen’s practice of "golden humor" in characterization and in story-telling as well. With the use of "golden humor" in characterization and in story-telling, the writer provides the reader with an optimistic view and a gleam of hope for a brighter and a better future. Jen’s strategic use of "golden humor" is reflected in story-telling through the use of irony, understatement, epiphany, and open ending. "Golden humor" is also embodied in the discourse in Typical American. Considering the discourse, this thesis attempts at a detailed analysis of Gish Jen’s use of free direct and free indirect discourse to further explore "golden humor", which is embodied in the discourse to achieve comic effect in Typical American.In Typical American, Gish Jen’s strategic use of "golden humor" not only inherits from or draws on the experience of the essence of "absurdity" in black humor but also transforms and improves it so that it is endowed with more optimistic spirit to exhibit the brighter, shining and golden facets of the Chinese American life.

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