Bound: A Book Review...and partial analysis
I love stories about different cultures so I decided to give Bound a shot.
Xing Xing is bound to her stepmother and stepsister. She is essentially a servant. Their wealth has diminished over the years and their only hope for survival is to marry, Wei Ping, the stepsister off to nobleman of some sort. Since the father never had Wei Ping's foot bound before, the stepmother decided she had better start binding her feet. Back then, small feet, bound feet, were consdered beautiful and smaller footed women were more likely to gain social mobility through marriage. This practice has been criticized by Western culture and present Chinese citizens.
There are definetly some aspects of the story that I found magical, like the reincarnation of Xing Xing's mother and their relationship. It was beautiful.
However, I am unsure wheter much of the book is culturally accurate. IT ends up becoming a Cinderella story at the very end, which was disappointing, but it got me thinking: would a Chinese writer have ended the story this way, or was this the easy way out for an American writer? Also, what are the implications for brinigning the characters into the present?
There's a really interesting article by Melinda Lo, a Chinese woman with a Bachelor's and a Master's dedicated to Chinese and Asian Studies, called Should White People Write About People of Color?
Lo has this to say:
"I don’t know if I will ever not be offended when an American wants me to perform my Chinese name for them. It’s personal.
That’s the way I feel about white people writing books based on China. I have a personal stake in it, and it’s difficult for me to overcome that. Beyond my personal background, I did spend all those years studying China, and I know how much there is to know and how much I don’t know. I’ve done a lot of research on China. I know enough to spot cross-cultural errors, and when I spot them, I’m always thrown out of the story."
I think these things are important to consider when we ask students to read books like these and project them as they are representative of a certain culture. Just something to think about.