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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTINGS

The Kitchen God’s Wife is a Chinese story told in the backdrop of China. Though China is the major setting, it is interspersed with American background in the beginning as well as in the end. This shift in the setting is significant to sustain the interest of the reader. Amy Tan has diligently chosen the settings. Her aim is to cater to the interests of both the Western and the Asian readers. The Chinese culture is unfamiliar to most Americans. So she begins the story and ends it in America, but the bulk of it constitutes Chinese characters and Chinese culture.

The story begins in the city of Shanghai. Weili stays here, in her father Jiang Sao’s yen mansion, till six years of age. The trips undertaken jointly by Winnie and her mother are extremely exciting for Winnie. Weili loves her mother deeply and those days are the most memorable moments in her life.


When Weili shifts to Tsungming Island, the people around her are her uncle, aunt and cousins. With the change in setting there is a change in Weili’s upbringing, from luxury and love to miserliness and negligence. Various places, like Nanking, Hanghow, Kunming forms the subsequent settings. Here, the main character Weili, encounters for the first time the experience of ‘taonon.’ She travels along with her husband Wen Fu, who is a pilot. It is from such experiences that Weili learns to face the bitter realities of her life bravely. The setting then shifts to the place where the reader would least expect the central figure to be - the prison. Weili finds it very difficult to adjust to the unclean and foul smelling cells of the jail. Here, she grows into a person who can now meet any dangers of her life.

These are the places in China, where the major action occurs. In order to point out the vast differences existing between the two countries and make the story more effective, she intersperses it with American settings at the beginning and in the end.

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