The Weight of Paper in Wayson Choy’s Novel All That Matters

Decent Essays
Wayson Choy’s novel All That Matters contains many memorable characters, however one of the most important characters in the novel is not a person at all, but rather paper. Choy’s book highlights papers ubiquitous influence in the lives of the Chen family and in a broader sense the entire Chinese Canadian diaspora. In a critique of Choy’s All That Matters it is stated that paper “constitutes false identities, mediates movement across borders and enables alternative though complex, spaces for diasporic mobility” (Chercover 2) . Alena Chercover emphasizes, “the autonomy of paper and things, which attain a mobility that flesh, often cannot”(15). However in her critic of Choy’s work, she provides specific evidence that although paper has the…show more content…
Focusing on specific examples Chercover explicates that paper provides the ability leave a desperate life in China to come to a land of opportunity comes at a very high cost ending with limitations both financially and physically. The critic by Deborah Madsen provides insight into the generation of the major themes in Choy’s writing and focuses on the idea of unhomliness as the major problem that limits diasporic success. Chercover takes this analysis of unhomliness one step further concluding that paper acts as the underlying mechanism behind this problem. This feeling of belonging neither here nor there is are due to the falsified immigration document which force a new identity on immigrants, creating a confusion of identify and thus leads to the feeling of unbeloning. Both essays provide evidence on the restrictions created by paper on Chinese immigrants freedom as well as highlight its benefits, however I continue to argue that on paper is a negative force in limiting the diasporic movement of Chinese Canadians and ultimately leads to the other themes of resentment and not belonging. These feelings of unhomliness by new immigrants are still felt today however are a result of other forces instead of paper. However paper’s irreplaceable role is heightened in today’s society, both in its ability to generate positive opportunities but also in the negative consequence of its
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