In the late 1800's, the Gold Rush tempted many Asian immigrants to America in hopes of riches and new beginnings. Maxine Hong Kingston's family members immigrated to America due to the Gold Rush and suffered racism and oppression while contributing to the creation of modern day America. Through Chinese fables and stories about the travels from the men in her family, Maxine Hong Kingston uses China Men, a sequel to her award-winning memoir, The Woman Warrior, to describe the outcome of her family's struggles and experiences when they immigrated to America, which eventually leads her to discover her father's secret past.
News of gold in America spread to China and enticed them to move there with the hopes of becoming rich. Kingston's Bak Goong, which is Cantonese for maternal great grandfather, immigrated to Hawaii after being convinced by the Royal Hawaiian Agricultural Society to work in the sugarcane fields. While working in the sugarcane fields, he suffered from mistreatment and harsh labor due to a rule that did not allow him to talk while working and was enforced by the white foremen. Even though he missed his family and his home, he tried to keep a positive attitude by taking in the beautiful scenery that Hawaii is famous for. After three years of adversities, his job in the sugarcane fields ended and he returned home with money to support his family. Him being able to persevere through everything has lead Kingston admire the actions that helped set food in the developing America society.
Kingston's grandfather, Ah Goong was employed by the Central Pacific Railroad to work in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Much like Bak Goong, he suffered from harsh labor and homesickness, using the stars in the sky to remind him of China. For years, his job was precarious: blowing up cliffs, tunneling through mountains, and the constant fear of falling rocks would have discouraged many. But making money for his family encouraged him to overcome all hardships that he faced (Bruccoli & Baugman). When the job was done, him and the rest of his Chinese co-workers were tossed to the side and sent back to China since the job did not promise citizenship for the workers. When he returned to China, he farmed his days away and is often called crazy by his family members since he tried to trade his youngest son for the neighbor's daughter. His contributions to his family are unappreciated much like the contributions that Chinese immigrants made to the creation of the railroad are often left unappreciated (Bruccoli & Baugman).
The most important family member is Kingston's father. She tries to understand her father and his "horrendous curses and his silence about himself" (Chow). Not knowing the truth about her father's past, she creates a partially true story about him. He was the youngest of four sons and his father almost traded him for their neighbor's daughter. When he was born, his mother commented on his hands saying "this kind of hand was made...