The One-Dimensional Portrayal of the Immigrant Mother in Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies)

The One-Dimensional Portrayal of the Immigrant Mother in Nothing but the Truth (and a Few White Lies)

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The One-Dimensional Portrayal of the Immigrant Mother in Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies)
Justina Chen Headley explores in her book Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) the search for her protagonist’s identity, Patty Ho, which is a part Taiwanese, part American girl. Headley displays the mother as a one-dimensional parent who is holding onto conservative and traditional Taiwanese values, and is imposing her cultural values onto her daughter as a justification for her strict parenting style.
Headley chooses to let Patty Ho speak in a first-person perspective. Yokota states that “an inside perspective is the portrayal of a cultural group by one who is a member of the group and is more likely to give to give an authentic view of what members of the cultural group believe to be true about themselves” (Yokata 158). Patty is part Asian and her non-present father is American. Patty’s mother is reminded daily by her daughter’s American looks and height that her daughter is not fully Asian and she compensates this with being overly restrictive towards Patty. The stereotype of the restrictive Asian mother is reinforced nearly throughout the whole book. It starts in the first chapter when Patty’s mother takes her to an Asian grandmother that reads her future through her belly button, and predicts that the 15-year-old daughter will date a white boy, whereas Mom’s plans are for her to not date until college and to marry a rich Taiwanese doctor, and if he is not available, then a rich Taiwanese businessman would suffice. The protagonist’s comment to the belly button reading is “I wish to be white” (Headley 5). Instead, she refers to her mixed racial heritage as “hapa”, a term that has derogatory connotations and m...

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... Paula, Gerald Campano, and Ted Hall. "Braided Histories and Experiences in Literature for Children and Adolescents." Journal of Children's Literature. 38.2 (2012): 14-22. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. (Ghiso, Campano, and Hall 14-22)
Headley, Justina Chen. Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies). New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007. Print.
Hughes-Hassell, Sandra. "Multicultural Young Adult Literature as a Form of Counter-Storytelling." Library Quarterly. 83.3 (2013): 212-228. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. (Hughes-Hassell 212-228)
Madigan, Dan. "The Politics of Multicultural Literature for Children and Adolescents: Combining Perspectives and Conversation." Language Arts. 70.3 (1993): 168-176. Web. 25 Nov. 2013.
Yokota, Junko. "Issues in Selecting Multicultural Children's Literature." Language Arts Multiculturalism and the Language Arts. 70.3 (1993): 156-167. Web. 24 Nov. 2013.

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