I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in the Richmond District of San Francisco, where Bitter Melon is set. Also, I was a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow and currently live in the Los Angeles area with my husband and son.
Frances is under a tremendous amount of pressure precisely because she is in an overbearing, Chinese-American, mother-daughter relationship. This is in part because of the high value placed on education and high achievement in Chinese culture. It is also because of Confucian cultural values. According to those values, children are supposed to obey their parents and care for them when they are old. So not only is Gracie pressuring Frances to achieve lofty academic and professional goals, but she is also pressuring her to provide for her family through her professional success. Add to that their financial situation, and Frances is living in a pressure cooker! Frances explores this issue through her speeches, initially by understanding and espousing her mother’s values, and later by questioning them.
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