Exploring the Issues of Gender and Ethnicity in Shirley Geok-lin Limâ€™s <i>Sister Swing</i>
This essay will provide an analysis of Shirley Geok-lin Limâ€™s Sister Swing (2006), a coming-of-age novel centred on the three daughters of a traditionalist family in Malacca, Malaysia. After examining the character of the patriarch, Ah Kong, and the hierarchical relationship he strove to establish and maintain with the victimised women of his family (both his wife and daughters), this article will, first of all, explore the strategies employed by the three sisters to emancipate themselves from his tyranny, and their different degrees of success. As it will be shown, the revolt against the patriarch is closely connected with the discovery of oneâ€™s body and sexuality, as well as with the notion of movement and travelling, signifying freedom from the shackles of tradition, and a quest for a home which is not merely a physical place. Secondly, given Limâ€™s overcoming of the binary opposition between the immigrantâ€™s country of origin and the US (and her subsequent adoption of a transnational perspective), this article will delve into the distinct way the author deals with the issue of ethnicity, namely by focusing on the problematic interaction between different ethnic communities in the American context, and their lack of understanding and communication with one another.
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