Mixed-race Migration and Adoption in Gish Jen’s The Love Wife


  • Jenny Wen-chuan Chu National Kaohsiung Normal University


Migration involves a sense of belonging, nostalgia and diaspora issues. Adoption in the migrant family illustrates the fluidity and tenacity of racial boundaries in different national and racial origins. In Gish Jen’s The Love Wife, migration and adoption in the mixed-race family show that people are not half and half, but they are more than double. In the dimension of mixed-race migration, home is a discourse of locality, and place of feelings and rootedness. Home is no longer fixed, but fluid and mobile. Nostalgia is inevitable. But good homes give much warmer memories than good old days. In the dimension of mixed-race adoption, the American dream is internalized as the mixed-race family lifestyle. It is the ideal to make individual choices without the restrictions of class, caste, religion, race, or ethnicity. On the contrary, Chinese culture is highly strengthened in the diversity of Chinese communities as well as families. The pervasive influence of Confucian philosophy is the core of Chinese identity. In The Love Wife, we observe that the adopted children perceive and negotiate their ethnic/racial identities. The parents equip their children with a secure sense of belonging. Wendy and Lizzy are both Asian Americans. Mama Wong is a hardcore Chinese matriarch. When Mama Wong dies, her will requires a relative of hers, Lan, to come from China to stay with the family. Blondie is convinced that Mama Wong is sending her husband, Carnegie, a new wife from beyond the grave. The two girls, meanwhile, also regard Lan as a second mother. However, through cultivating their American home with multiple cultures, Carnegie and Blondie’s mixed-race family proves a successful example of migration and adoption.