Y7 – 18/05/17

Due: 24/05 (Issued: 18/05)

Title: A student’s perspective

Task: A student having read this section of the extract, said “The racism of others and Sui’s own confusion shows how sad it makes her”. To what extent do you agree?

In your response, you could:

  • write about your own impressions of how sad Sui is
  • evaluate how the writer has created these impressions
  • support your opinions with references to the text.

Avoid the detention

  1. A minimum of three paragraphs
  2. Each paragraph to include, evidence, identified keyword, defined subject terminology, why the writer has written it, and how it affects the reader

Point: I (dis)agree with X to a [great / certain / minimal] extent because the writer uses language to…
Evidence: This is revealed in the quotation “…”
Identify/Define: The _________ “…” shows/suggests…
Writer: The writer’s method of… [signifies / implies / suggests]… because…
Reader: [I / This makes me] [feel / imagine / think]… because…
Link: This is further supported by the quotation “…”

Background

In 1890, Sui Sin Far wrote her autobiography in which she describes her experience of growing up in England and Canada, the child of a Chinese mother and English father and the racism she encountered.

Extract

When I look back over the years I see myself, a little child of scarcely four years of age, walking in front of my nurse, in a green English lane, and listening to her tell another of her kind that my mother is Chinese. “Oh Lord!” exclaims the nurse. She turns around and scans me curiously from head to foot. Then the two women whisper together. Though the word “Chinese” conveys very little meaning to my mind, I feel that they are talking about my father and mother and my heart swells with indignation. When we reach home I rush to my mother and try to tell her what I have heard. I am a young child. I fail to make myself intelligible. My mother does not understand, and when the nurse declares to her, “Little Miss Sui is a story-teller,” my mother slaps me.

Many a long year has past over my head since that day—the day on which I first learned I was something different and apart from other children, but though my mother has forgotten it, I have not.

I see myself again, a few years older. I am playing with another child in a garden. A girl passes by outside the gate. “Mamie,” she cries to my companion. “I wouldn’t speak to Sui if I were you. Her mamma is Chinese.”

“I don’t care,” answers the little one beside me. And then to me, “Even if your mamma is Chinese, I like you better than I like Annie.”

“But I don’t like you,” I answer, turning my back on her. It is my first conscious lie.

***

I am only ten years old. And all the while the question of nationality perplexes my little brain. Why are we what we are? I and my brothers and sisters. Why did God make us to be hooted and stared at? Papa is English, mamma is Chinese. Why couldn’t we have been either one thing or the other? Why is my mother’s race despised? I look into the faces of my father and mother. Is she not every bit as dear and good as he? Why? Why? She sings us the song she learned at her English school. She tells us tales of China. Though a child when she left her native land she remembers it well, and I am never tired of listening to the story of how she was stolen from her home. She tells us over and over again of her meeting with my father in Shanghai and the romance of their marriage. Why? Why?

I do not confide in my father and mother. They would not understand. How could they? He is English, she is Chinese. I am different to both of them—a stranger, though their own child. “What are we?” I ask my brother. “It doesn’t matter, sissy,” he responds. But it does. I love poetry, particularly heroic pieces. I also love fairy tales. Stories of everyday life do not appeal to me. I dream dreams of being great and noble; my sisters and brothers also. I glory in the idea of dying at the stake and a great genie arising from the flames and declaring to those who have scorned us: “Behold, how great and glorious and noble are the Chinese people!”

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