The Girl Who Wouldn't Sing by Kit Yuen Quan
In the memoir "The Girl Who Wouldn't Sing", Kit Yuen Quan
describes her life experiences growing up as a Chinese girl in America.
In her attempt to try and find her place in society, Quan intermingles
with several groups of people. Her interactions with a feminist group,
two young Cambodian girls, and finally her own father allow her to
explore her Chinese background and how that affects her interactions
with people. In order to find her own "voice" in a society that is not
really hers, Kit Yuen Quan explored relationships with people of
different lifestyles. She does so in order to be able to recognize how
she wants to express herself, and through which culture, American or
Chinese, if not both, she wants to do so.
When she ran away from home, Quan "sought refuge in the women's
community working part-time at a feminist bookstore"(Quan 214). Yet,
because of her Chinese background and difficulty in understanding
language, Kit found she wasn't as accepted as she had hoped she would
be. The fact that she could not understand many of the issues discussed
by the feminists she was surrounded by was very frustrating for Kit.
This frustration acted as a vehicle for her to gain a desire to be more
proficient in the "feminist rhetoric"(Quan 214). Although her desire to
be part of the community was strong, she continuously encountered
problems because of her age, nationality, and lack of a "formal American
education". The frustration that Kit encountered made her feel even more
misunderstood, and she sought her voice through other communities and
Kit's first failed attempt to become a part of a community was
because of her inability to "properly" expr...
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...nguage in a way that probably would not have happened if
she hadn't left home. The fact that Kit had the experiences she did,
with the Cambodian girls, the feminists, and her father, has allowed her
to see life in a new light. Through her language and culture Kit not
only finds her voice, but finds her inner self as well. She states in
the last line if the memoir, "As long as there are bakeries in Chinatown
and as long as I have 85 cents, I know I have a way back to myself"(Quan
220). Through her culture, language, and reunion with her family, Kit
has found her ability to communicate, as well as the comfort that she
has searched for all her life.
Quan, Kit Yuen. Making Face, Making Soul; Creative and Critical
Perspectives by Feminists of Color: "The Girl who Wouldn't Sing".
San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books. 1990.