Comparing The Portrayal Of Jingqui With That Of Rachel Chu (Crazy Rich Asians)


  1. Choose one essay question from the list below.
  2. The essay should be between 1500 – 2000 words. Essay topics are below. You are welcome to make up your own essay topic, but you must clear the topic with me first. While you can use films from the class viewing list in your essay, your topic must also use the text, Under the Hawthorn Tree.
  3. Your response to the question should be supported with evidence in the form of quotations from the text and a discussion of how the evidence supports your claims. Your essay must have a clear thesis statement, well developed body paragraphs, a conclusion and a Works Cited page.
  4.  The format is MLA, typed, and double spaced. Be sure to include a cover page with your name and student number on the page.

Essay Questions

  1. In the novel, Under the Hawthorn Tree, while trying to create a more economically just society, the Chinese Cultural Revolution also supported an environment where capitalism, the West, religion and education were forbidden. Bong Jun-Ho’s film, Parasite, which portrays an attraction for American goods, speaking English, and getting an American education also reveals the desperation of the ‘dirt spoons’ who can never be ‘gold spoons’. John M. Chu’s film, Crazy Rich Asians, shows the excessively wealthy lives of Singaporean Asians, the divide between ‘old’ money and ‘new money’ and the largely unspoken rules by which outsiders are excluded. Compare Under the Hawthorn Tree with one or both of the films and discuss how the text and the film or films portray the accumulation of wealth and the socioeconomic divide. What position does the book or film(s) take on these issues?
  2. In the novel, Under the Hawthorn Tree, individual sacrifice for the good of the Party and the country is seen as highly desirable and the individualistic notion of romantic love between Jingqui and Old Third, is seen as degenerate and bourgeois. In the film, Crazy Rich Asians, there is a similar conflict between conforming to the values of traditional Asian parents to support the family and the individualistic nature of white American society. How do the goals and choices of the characters reveal the nature of this conflict between collectivist and individualist goals? Where do the writers of these works position themselves in terms of resolving these conflicts?
  3. Compare and contrast the portrayal of Jingqui with that of Rachel Chu (Crazy Rich Asians). These women both suffer for love and both are considered unworthy of their respective suitors. How are these two women similar and different? How does the romantic tragedy of Under the Hawthorn Tree compare with the romantic comedy of Crazy Rich Asians? Do you see these stories as realistic? Are the trials of the women a source of development for them?
  4. Orientalist stereotypes often portray Asian males as physically weak, backward, effeminate, lacking technology, and sometimes dangerous. Consider the character of Old Third in Under the Hawthorn Tree and compare him to Nick Young and other male figures in Crazy Rich Asians. How do the portrayals of the characters reinforce or undermine Orientalist stereotypes of Asian males.

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