Wayson Choy's All That Matters

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A sheet of paper can wield more power than an army. In Wayson Choy’s novel All That Matters paper’s power is portrayed as a double-edged sword; where it acts both as a catalyst for change and opportunity, but also as a tool to imprison and constrain individuals. Although paper “represents a significant tool of diasporic mobility” states literary critic Alena Chercover in her analysis of Wayson Choy’s All That Matters, she argues that there is a significant trade-off in its ability to facilitate “survival in the diaspora, [as] it often carries a steep price”(12). This price that results from passage across “national, ethnic, gender and class boundaries” (Chercover 12) appears to weigh more on female immigrants. Immigration and the papers…show more content…
Both Chercover and Madsen’s critiques focus on problems associated with immigration, however Chercover takes the analysis of unsuccessful immigration one step further by concluding that paper acts as the underlying mechanism behind this problem. Paper traps females into constrictive gender roles, which results in the feelings of unhomeliness. Wayson Choy highlights both the positive and negative effects of paper on his characters throughout his novel All That Matters showing how paper provided a means of liberating them from their old life but also applied a constant constraint to each person’s freedom. In the essay that follows, I will explore the role paper plays in the hardships faced by characters in Choy’s All That Matters focusing specifically on females and how paper negatively influences the development of their identity. Initially, Choy shows how paper is a positive force that is instrumental in the creation of opportunities for the Chen family, like the ghost papers that facilitated their passage to Canada. However as the book progresses it becomes clear that the crossing of physical boundaries comes at the price of relinquishing one’s freedom. This is evident in the character of Stepmother whose passage to Canada came at the price of her body. Choy dramatically illustrates the exchange of her freedom for passage during the scene in the taxi after Stepmothers arrival into Canada: “ I remember the dark-coloured papers

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