The author states that the “Chinaman” in New York lives his life in furtiveness because he feels that it is necessary. He sets protective measures to his properties because his experiences of the American attitude toward him make him want to become isolated.
The author implies that the “Chinaman” has a very distrusting personality. According to the author, although the man is able to live a normal life by presenting his lifestyle overtly, he is unwilling to open up to his surroundings because of his disapproval of the American society. The author uses the phrase “shuns the light” to describe how the “Chinaman” tries to block any of his privacy from becoming being publicized. Furthermore, the man’s distrusting personality reveals as the author states that there is nothing that needs to be hidden in his life. The “Chinaman”, however, believes that his life as well as his properties would be in danger if others know details about him. The author says that the “attitude of American civilization…has taught him that way”. In this part of the quote, the author suggests that the “Chinaman” feels the need to be isolated away from the mainstream culture because his distrust mostly relies in the negativity that he has received over the years. The “Chinaman” does not trust the Americans, as the Americans probably does not show him adequate trust and respect. The author uses the word “invited” in irony. Although the “Chinaman” was “invited” to America as a “guest”, he has never been treated in a manner one that of which a guest should receive. The entire quote that the author proposes contains an overly negative tone about the “Chinaman”. First and most, the word
“Chinaman” is a derogative vocabulary that is used primarily in a disparaging manner to address a Chinese man. If the author wishes to show proper respect, the word Chinese or the words Chinese man would appropriated replaced the term “Chinaman”. In the last section of this quote, the author states that the “Chinaman” fences off his properties by using “queer, forbidding partitions”. Notice how the author does not further describe the level of queerness of such partitions. This last portion of the quote may be suggesting that the author is judging the man’s behaviors and actions merely by his own standards and likes. The author might not have given the man a fair chance to present himself as a man. Rather, the author sees the man as a low class “Chinatown”. With this type of prejudice in mind, all the man’s actions seem savage and unruly in the author’s writing.
The quote itself, let alone, is not one that could convince the reader how terrible a Chinese person’s personality truly is. If the quote were to be placed in the beginning of the chapter, it would not have had a very strong effect in bringing out the idea that the author tries to convey. Throughout the chapter of Chinatown, the author continuously uses examples of why the average “Chinaman” is the way that he is and how terrible and unhealthy his lifestyle is. By the time the readers come to the to reading the quote about the man’s secretive nature, it further adds on to what the author is previously trying to convince. The idea the author tries to suggest is that an average “Chinaman” is selfish. Only selfishness can make a person wish to hoard all that he could and make sure that none of his properties is leaked out to anyone else. This quote as a whole merely shows disgust that the author has towards the Chinese community. It is one of racist nature and one that must be critically examined to understand its meanings behind it. The analyzers must not simply interpret the quote as its literally meanings because the quote itself is one that carries out an idea of a judgmental opinion. This quote made me examine deeper into the chapter as well as the tone of the author for a better justification.