My China by Kylie Kwong
In My China by Kylie Kwong we have the theme of celebration, tradition, connection, happiness, prosperity, pride and discovery. Narrated in the first person by Kwong herself it becomes clear to the reader while reading the story that Kwong is exploring the theme of celebration. Kwong’s visit to her great-grandfather’s village, a man who left for Australia in 1878, is full of celebration of heritage. Though this is Kwong’s first visit to China she feels remarkably at home and considers that one of her uncles looks like her brother Paul. This may be significant as Kwong can trace her ancestry to her great-grandfather for five generations, there are still traits like how a person looks that remain the same. It is also noticeable that Kwong is exploring the theme of tradition with the ritual that occurs inside Kwong Sue Duk’s home. Symbolically Kwong’s relatives are using colour to ward of bad luck and to bring good luck to themselves and Kwong.
The theme of connection is also evident in the story with Kwong making a connection with everybody, particularly her relatives. The fact the villagers have laid out a new pebble path for Kwong might also be important as it suggests just how highly regarded Kwong and her great-grandfather are held. The sense of happiness that Kwong feels is also palpable. She really does feel at home in the village despite it being over hundred years since her grandfather left for Australia. If anything Kwong Sue Duk took a risk when travelling to the distant land of Australia. Lured by gold he was aware that his life would be more prosperous should he travel to Australia. Not only has Kwong Sue Duk left an impression on the villagers but he has also left a deep impression among five generations of Kwong’s.
There may be further symbolism in the story which might be important. The food that is prepared for Kwong and which she prepares to cook for her relatives can be seen to represent connection. A deep long-lasting connection. The motorcycle which Kwong rides on, after being offered a ride could represent the ability of the villagers to communicate with Kwong, sometimes without the assistance of an interpreter. Kwong knows exactly what the man means when he points to the back of his motorcycle. She is excited to take a ride with him. This excitement and happiness runs through the story aided by the fondness that Kwong Sue Duk is held by the villagers.
The end of the story is interesting as Kwong appears to be exploring the theme of pride. Kwong is immensely proud of Kwong Sue Duk. In fact her pride might be described as radiant. She is also happy that her visit to China and the village of Kwong Sue Duk went so well. She has been accepted by others just as she might feel accepted being a fifth generation Chinese woman in Australia. The foundations having been laid down by Kwong Sue Duk. If anything there is a sense that Kwong has discovered or found herself through her engagement with the villagers. She does after all consider them to be her family despite the passage of time since Kwong Sue Duk left for Australia.