Collecting seeds of destiny in Li-Young Lee's The winged seed: a remembrance
Newton, Pauline T., (2005) Collecting seeds of destiny in Li-Young Lee's The winged seed: a remembrance. SARE (Southeast Asian Review of English) (46 (Special Issue: Asian American Literature)). pp. 143-159. ISSN 0127-046x
Southern Methodist University
A keen awareness of seeds and their progeny resurfaces in Indonesian American Li-Young Lee's migrant narrative, The Winged Seed: A Remembrance, and a brief insight into earlier migrant works that precede Lee's shed light on the significance of his solemn consideration of the seed. The canon of Chinese American literature includes a rich variety of texts, including works by Adeline Yen Mah, Maxine Hong Kingston, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Amy Tan and Gish Jen.' These migrant writers of Chinese descent discuss, among other topics, alienation from one's homeland, issues with one's parents and Chinese heritage, and discomfort in the United States due to language, culture and other barriers. Such experiences are encountered and documented by numerous Chinese American and other migrants of other descents. However, Lee chooses to express these experiences in a unique way: through diverse discussions and representations of the seed.
Other non-Asian migrant writers reference gardening and name specific plants in their writings, though the seed does not become the central image of their migrant experiences. For example, Antiguan American Jamaica Kincaid, who is of Caribbean, Scottish and African descent, deeply questions the origins of seeds and plants, especially those that exist in her native land, Antigua. Kincaid's interest in plants began when she studied botany as a youth in her Antiguan school. In her writings, Kincaid repeatedly expresses distaste for daffodils because they remind her of her transplanted and colonized state as a former resident in Antigua. In her gardening column in The New Yorker, Kincaid acknowledges that "race and politics" have existed "in the garden" for ages.2 The garden, like Antigua or other so-called paradisiacal regions,3 "is not a place of rest and repose" (Kincaid, "Sowers" 45), but rather is a homeland that refuses to release its lethal grip on its natural and adopted descendants. Nevertheless, Kincaid, like Antigua and her garden, refuses to let go of her flowers, regardless of their origin, and even plants daffodils in her own Vermont garden.
|Keywords:||Seeds, Indonesian American, Lee, Li-Young, The winged seed; Chinese American authors|
|Subjects:||P Language and Literature|
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