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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Historical Information

The Kitchen Godís Wife is a tale told by a mother to a daughter and has strong undercurrents of warfare and invasion. Most of the details of the attacks mentioned by Amy Tan are true. Without the historical factual detail, the story would have been reduced to nothing but banter between two women. The facts of Chinese history play an important role in shaping the personality of the prime character, Winnie.


Revolutions mark the Chinese history, in the twentieth century. A shift of power is seen when there is a change from the monarchical system to the communist system. The facts that are relevant in building up the story are - Establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912. In 1923, Sun Yat-sen, the then leader of the Republic unites the Kuomintang soldiers with the help of budding communists. The death of Sun-Yat-Sen in 1925 is a severe blow to the communists who are then mercilessly massacred by Chiang Kai-Shek. He takes over the leadership and becomes the sole dictator over China. The struggles between the communist and Kuomintang factions in China continue and this helps the Japanese to enter into the Chinese territory. Gradually, they establish their supremacy over China. In 1932, Japan bombards the city of Shanghai. In order to combat the Japanese, Chiang Kai-Shek becomes the commander of the whole of the Chinese armed forces. In a major development in 1937, the communists and Kuomintang unite to fight back against the Japanese. To assist their war operations, a group of the American force - Flying Tigers - is formed. In 1941, the Japanese bombard Pearl Harbor and in retaliation the Chinese counter attack. The Japanese are defeated by 1944 and are compelled to put an end to their imperialist tendency. The Chinese have won the war against the Japanese with the help of the US para-military force. But the internal problems within China still persist. In 1947, Civil war begins between the communists and the Nationalists, which ultimately leads to the Communist party reigning over China. All migrations from China are restricted. With the supremacy of the Communist government in China, a major shift is seen in the political and social scenario.

The novel is set against the backdrop of a strife-ridden China, which is the result of the political instability in the country.

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