Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chi: Cultural Separation and Connectedness

After Chi ran-away, at age sixteen, American language and values began to dominate Andrew's culturally hybrid identity. His dream manifested themselves in English and Vietnamese wasn't expected to be spoken within his household. Chi's Americanness, which can be seen in her individuality and bending of gender expectations, affected Andrew to the point that he too let his thoughts become preoccupied with own masculinity while trying to forget his Vietnamese roots. His journey to Vietnam is a journey about finding himself through understanding Chi. As his journey progresses so does his understanding of culture and his own self-actualization through his gender. Chi's absence, and later suicide, encouraged Andrew's American assimilation just as his understanding of her revived his cultural roots. For Andrew, Chi connects his dichotomized cultural identity.

At the top of my illustration I drew Chi as she leaves in the middle of the night. She is at the top and center of the drawing because she is central to Andrew's journey. She is the division between the Vietnamese culture and the American culture, however she is also the bridge between the two worlds for Andrew.

By Alexandra


  1. I love the sexual ambiguity of the portrait of Chi-Minh. This drawing perfectly portrays the warring sense of identity and sexuality within Chi-Minh and the division he/she represents within the life and journeys of Pham.

  2. I really like that everything is separated within the picture but they still build on one another, which is a lot like Pham's relationship with his Vietnamese heritage. The idea of circular connections are also a nice touch with the mandala theme.
    - Alex

  3. The drawing is very good, beautiful, it also serves to portrait the struggle of the Vietnamese immigrant as they struggle to fit in but keep their culture as well. The rendering of Chi is amazing as it is not evident if it is Chi or Andrew as both had trouble finding their self and in a sense had to leave to discover themselves.


  4. This is a really interesting depiction of Chi's role within the text: to serve as a kind of model for Andrew while he is on his journey, especially as his quest can be read on several levels as a continuation of hers, and because his success is due in part to her failure. I particularly like your notion of her as a bridge between a gap of nations. Excellent.


  5. It is interesting how you link Chi to An's discovery of home. As he searches for his own identity and place in the world, An reflects on Chi's experiences and struggles in her life. She really is a link between his two nationalities.


  6. Alexandra,
    I love how you so eloquently said, “His [Pham’s] journey to Vietnam is a journey about finding himself through understanding Chi.” Your drawing definitely helps depict the journey that Chi endures: the journey that helps An as well. I like the sexual ambiguity that you gave to Chi-Minh. This visual helps us empathize with Chi and her lonely journey for self-discovery. This is such a detailed and beautiful picture.


  7. There is indeed a vicarious relationship between An's self actualization and Chi's disintegration. The paradox between these two characters is that both rely on a binary forces of inspiration. Where An finds inspiration our of his Chi's desperation, Chi finds hers in the same subjective trajectory An uses in his own journey. I think the visual aspect of your post captures this perfectly. Juxtaposing symbols of the two cultures and their implications of identity compliments Chi's depiction of self discovery very effectively and potently.


  8. This drawing portrays the severely outlined opposition that Chi most likely felt within her internal world. Chi undoubtedly represents the unsuccessful merging of two selves, and of two cultures. The Americanized, masculine self is juxtaposed with the Vietnamese femininity that she was expected to follow. She is isolated and alone when she is further subdivided without her family's support. She cannot be a daughter or a sister, and her identity is hyphenated: she is Andrew's Vietnamese-American Sister-Brother. She is Chi-Minh.

    -Anna Hernandez