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Lindo Jong - Double Face
Waverly Jong expresses a desire to go to China for her second honeymoon, for being Chinese has become a trendy asset. She tells her mother, however, that she fears she will be forced to stay in China since she looks so Chinese. Her mother laughingly convinces Waverly that she is too Americanized, and no one in China will mistake her for a native. In spite of her mother’s explanation, Waverly is still not entirely convinced.
Waverly takes her mother to get her hair done, for Lindo is about to meet Waverly’s future in-laws. It is Lindo’s first visit to Rory, Waverly’s hair stylist. While they are there, Waverly allows Rory to think that her mother does not speak English. When the hairdresser comments on the remarkable resemblance between mother and daughter, Waverly is humiliated, but her mother is delighted. As Lindo compares their features in the mirror, she remembers that as a child she was proud to look like her own mother.
Lindo remembers when she came to America long ago. A well-wisher had advised her to quickly find a Chinese- American husband and have children at once. After arriving in American, Lindo went to work in a fortune cookie company, where she met An-Mei. The two of them had wonderful fun reading the fortunes aloud in broken English.
Lindo met Tin Jong, a Cantonese by birth. She was not interested in him at first, for being Cantonese, he was very different. Since their dialects were not alike and their English was poor, they communicated to each other in sign language and with the aid of the fortunes from the cookies. In spite of their communication difficulties, they fell in love. After their marriage, they had three children: Wilson, Vincent, and Waverly.
Lindo always wanted the best for her children; she wanted them to have all the advantages of America, while retaining their Chinese traditions and character. Since her children are all very Americanized, she feels like she has failed. Lindo is especially upset that Waverly lacks the qualities of courtesy, respect, obedience, and humility - traits that are very important in the Chinese culture. Lindo cannot believe that Waverly shows her mother no respect and argues with her about anything and every thing.
Lindo thinks it is humorous that her daughter fears being mistaken for a native Chinese in China. When Lindo, who appears much more Chinese than Waverly, returned home for a visit, she tried to fit in and look like a native; but it was obvious to everyone in China that she had become an American. Lindo knows that Waverly does not stand a chance of being mistaken for Chinese, especially since she speaks Chinese very badly.
The theme of appearance vs. reality is central to this chapter, as indicated by the title “Double Face.” Both Waverly and her mother wear two faces - one Chinese and one American. In truth, Waverly has become fully Americanized. Born and raised in the United States, she speaks little Chinese and has few of the mannerisms of a properly trained Chinese girl. Ironically, because of her appearance, Waverly seems Chinese in America. She also fears that she will appear so Chinese in China that they will not allow her to return home. Lindo, who knows how Americanized Waverly has become, thinks her daughter’s fears are humorous. It is also ironic that Waverly has spent most of her life denying her Chinese heritage. Now, however, it has become trendy to be oriental, and Waverly has come to accept her Chinese identity. As a result, Waverly is eager to visit the land of her roots. She plans to honeymoon in China.
Lindo, Waverly’s mother, has also struggled with her identity in life, but she has always sought to maintain her Chinese heritage. She worries, however, that she has become so Americanized that she has lost her real self. Though she befriended and then married Tin Jong, a Cantonese, they had trouble communicating because their dialects were so diverse. Although it appears to Americans that Lindo and Tin are simply Chinese, in reality, they come from very diverse Chinese backgrounds.
The scene at the hairdresser is filled with appearance vs. reality. Rory assumes that Lindo is a recent immigrant who cannot speak English. Waverly does not tell him the truth. When Rory comments that Waverly looks like her mother, she is not pleased, for she does not want to look so Chinese. Lindo, however, is delighted to think that Waverly looks like her. She is sad, however, that Waverly has her crooked nose. Ironically, Waverly likes their noses, for it makes them both look devious and determined, which Waverly feels will help they get what they want in life. Lindo knows, however, that it is only inner strength that will help a person succeed.
The entire chapter points out the many contrasts between Lindo Jong and her daughter, Waverly. Although Lindo is shrewd, strong-willed, and perceptive, she is also humble and honest. She speaks out her mind and asserts her viewpoints; but she is willing to give in to Waverly’s wishes when they do not interfere with her principles. As a result, she allows herself to be led to Rory’s to have her hair styled in the manner that Waverly wants it, for Waverly hopes that Lindo will impress her future in-laws. In contrast to her mother, Waverly appears brave; but in reality Waverly hides her insecurity beneath her haughty manner. Inside, she lacks the strength of character of her mother.
The chapter contains several humorous anecdotes. The reading of the fortunes from the cookies by both An-Mei and Lindo are amusing, for they cannot fully understand the English. They think that the saying, “To the victor goes the spoils,” means that if you win, your clothes will get dirty.” No wonder the women reject the fortunes as foolish. The way Tin Jong and Lindo communicate is also amusing. Tin tries to reveal his feelings for Lindo by doing pranks, play- acting, and using fortunes from the cookies. When he tries to propose, he presents her with a fortune that says, “A house is not a home when a spouse is not at home.” He then asks her, “Will you spouse me?” Verbal humor is keen in this chapter and elsewhere in the pages of the novel.