Discussion points for Yangtze (How important is setting in Sarah Howe’s…
Discussion points for
Does Howe create an imagined history and heritage - postmodern/ postcolonial/ poststructuralist view?
Howe creates an imagined history and heritage if we define heritage and history as her experience of a the culture and people of a place instead of a geographical location
She does not have many memories from her childhood in China since she left at such a young age, thus it is largely imagined or based on her perceptions of China as a foreigner or through her mother.
It could be argued that she does have a part of Chinese history and heritage and her identity because this identity was instilled in her by her mother, who raised her up, thus instilling Chinese values and identities into Howe. However this could also be counterbalanced by saying that the environment outside of home and the identity of her father also made her largely British.
Language is also a defining part of culture of a place, but Howe doesn't speak Cantonese or Chinese fluently, so it could be argued that she does not possess the heritage and history of China, making The Loop of Jade largely based on imagination from a foreigner's perspective.
Howe creates a justified history and heritage if we define history and heritage as a geographical location instead of a place or a people
By birth, Howe is Chinese, and thus she has a historical and genetic heritage of Chinese identity. However,this also only goes partway as her father is British and she did not spend a long time in this geographical location. However, under this definition, Howe has a justified history and heritage of China due to her ancestry.
Postmodern - A movement characterised by their use of metafiction, unreliable narration, self-reflexivity, and intertextuality, which often thematizes both historical and political issues. This style has emerged in the United States during the 1960s.
Howe does not use many of these techniques involved in post-modern texts and does not discuss political issues. However, the loop of jade is a self-reflexive text in the sense that Howe tries to find her own identity by reflecting upon herself as a person and identity.
Post-colonial - Occurring or existing after the end of western colonial rule - explores human consequences & impacts of the control and exploitation of colonised people and their lands
While Howe's Loop of Jade does not directly explore colonisation and the impacts it had on Britain, Hong Kong, and China, it is a product of colonisation, and thus explores human consequences and impacts of colonisation through the example of a third-world child, Sarah Howe.
How important is setting in Sarah Howe’s poem?
The image of the glimmering moon and the image of the brown channel wrapping around the mountain side almost as if it was a loop of jade. this shows a very strong emphasis on the setting, telling the reader that Howe is not only connected to the culture but also to the place. The loop of jade can also create the image of a cycle, and she is closing the circle.
The setting is not as important as the memories and the people there, as it is the culture that makes a place special to her
She struggles to understand her identity and is met with an environment that she is physically unfamiliar with, but feels a strong connection to
Observes that there are two sides of a broken bridge that fail to meet. This is a metaphor of how she struggles to connect her two identities.
Through describing a sunken valley, it is almost as if Sarah Howe is describing a sunken identity that is resurfaced when the fisherman pulls out the tree.
She feels that through understanding and experiencing her mother's geographical roots and her experiences in this place, she will be able to have a closer link to who she truly is
How does Howe present a refreshing and atypical view of China?
Howe presents a very typical view of Chinese landscape, depicting a muddy brown river and mountains wrapped in mist.
At the same time, Howe presents an atypical view of China because of her point of view. Having left Hong Kong at a young age, her perception of China is largely based on her memory, her foreign studies of China, and her mother’s stories. This creates the largely mystical yet admiring depiction of China.
It can be argued that Howe presents an atypical view of China as this poem describes the beauty of the natural and environmental aspects within China- something which is rarely discussed or brought up by foreigners. Many times, China is depicted as a 'dirty' country due to its poor air quality and pollution index. In Howe's poem, she presents a different, less so discussed image of China that is elegant and beautiful, presenting western audiences with a possibly new perspective on China as a whole.