lecture #3 - WordPress.com

Fae Myenne Ng’s Bone, Fragmentation, Family and Time
 a common thread or repeated idea incorporated
throughout a literary work
an author’s idea or message that may be deep, difficult to
understand or even moralistic
must be extracted as the reader explores the passages of a
work because the author utilizes plot, characters, dialogue,
figurative language, images and other literary devices to
develop theme
full impact of the theme is slowly realized as the reader
processes the text
essentially, the whole point of why the author wrote the
book and why you are reading it
 Literary analysis = interpretive analysis
 Interpret (v) – the act of explaining the meaning of
something. Examples:
 C6H12O6
 “I’m fine.”
 Literary interpretation: examining important moments in
the texts and how they are related to each other in order to
articulate the connections you see between those moments
and ultimately how they work together to present greater
meaning. Examples:
 Romeo & Juliet is a play about couples. 
 Romeo & Juliet is a play about love.
 Romeo & Juliet is a play demonstrating the destructive force
of passionate love overcoming human reason.
 unity vs diversity  how does Leila’s story as one example
of the experiences of Chinese Americans resonate with and
diverge from the stories/experiences of other Asian
 universality of literature vs specificity of
race/ethnicity/class/gender/sexuality/nationality  How
is the fragmentation experienced by this family specifically
conditioned by their racialization, class status, experiences
of immigration and denial of citizenship as well as by
historically and culturally situated expectations of gender
and sexuality?
 the cultural and the political  What spaces of hope and
acts of freedom are depicted in the face of political and
material conditions? Specifically, what does the ending
Leila returns from NY (maybe a year after Ona’s suicide?)
Leila marries Mason in NY
Day before Leila leaves for NY
After Ona’s death, before Leila moves in with Mason
Leila & Leon @ Social Security (time?)
Leon’s return home after Ona’s suicide
Search for Grandpa Leong’s grave (time?)
Months after Ona’s death
Weeks after Ona’s death (Lunar New Year)
Days immediately after Ona’s death
Morning that Leila learns of Ona’s death
Tommie Hom and Ong & Leong laundry
“a time when Salmon Alley was our whole world and we got along”
Leila leaves Salmon Alley to live with Mason
Past to
to past
Ch. 1
“Leon kept things because he believed that time
mattered. Old made good. These letters gained value
the way old coins did; they counted the way money
counted. All the letters addressed to Leon should prove
to the people at the social security office that this
country was his place, too. Leon had paid; Leon had
earned his rights. American dollars. American time.
These letters marked his time and they marked his
endurance. Leon was a paper son.” (Ch. 5)
Ch. 14
“Like that, we all
snapped apart. For me,
it was as if time broke
down: Before and After
Ona Jumped.” (Ch. 1)
 “The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its
sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation
to a mere money relation.” (Marx, The Communist
 Ex: Page Law, policy of Hawaiian plantation farmers
 “They both worked too hard; it was as if their marriage
was a marriage of toil – of toiling together. The idea
was that the next generation would marry for love…”
(Ch 2)
 Ona’s death as consequence of racialized labor on the
family and the negation of progress
 Ona’s death  Grandpa Leong’s bones  Tommy Hom
 Ong & Leong’s laundry  Salmon Alley & all of
 “Like the oldtimer’s photos, Leon’s papers, and Grandpa
Leong’s lost bones, it reminded me to look back, to
remember. I was reassured. I knew what I held in my heart
would guide me. So I wasn’t worried when I turned that
corner, leaving the old blue sign, Salmon Alley, Mah and
Leon – everything – backdaire” (Ch 14)
 How does one live within the legacies of the past, struggle in
the present and imagine different futures?
 “But I didn’t get married just for a name change. I wanted a
marriage of choice. I wanted this marriage to be for me.”
(Ch 1)
 How does one struggle for freedom within the confines of

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