The sublime eloquence of selected Asian American writers: A rhetorical study of John Okada's "No-No Boy," Maxine Hong Kingston's "The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts," and Lisa See's "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan"
Cho, Elaine Eun Ju
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This study examines selected literary works that contribute to the emerging field of Asian American literature. Asian American writers explore a broad spectrum of topics that represent the “constant state of transition” between rhetorical borderlands (Anzaldua 25). They negotiate rhetorical borderlands that transition between East and West or West and East to address social and cultural issues of the past and/or present while providing hope for the future. They also incorporate various styles of eloquence, as well as their own eloquence, that are connected to the five sources of sublimity: “power to conceive great thoughts,” “strong and inspired emotion,” rhetorical figures, diction, and “dignified and elevated word-arrangement” (Longinus 350). This study conveys that the diverse styles of eloquence in West Coast writers John Okada’s No-No Boy, passages in Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts, and Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan are represented in the diction, word usage and arrangement, rhetorical figures, persuasive appeal of pathos, and folkloric elements reflecting the argument of Longinus: “it is our nature to be elevated and exalted by true sublimity” (350). The first chapter of this study includes an introduction to Asian American literature. Although Asian American texts have been major components of American literature and have been composed in many areas of the country, the focus of this study is the works of writers from the West Coast of the United States. These writers elevate their works to a level of sublimity, and the three styles of eloquence from the classical rhetorical tradition are explained in the second chapter. The third chapter is an analysis of selective rhetorical figures as proofs of argument in all three works. The following chapters include an analysis of folklore in selective passages from each book and its connection to the rhetorical arguments. Folklore reveals the values as well as exposes the contradictions that arise from binary oppositions associated with values placed in social and cultural contexts. This study concludes that the 21st century is an opportune time for Asian American literature because it continues to grow exponentially with talented and gifted writers who produce sublime works of literature.