ENG 1121 (Prof.Scanlan)
Essay3 Page Draft
Life Is a Long Journey
In Ha Jin’s A Good Fall, the central characters are Ganchin, Master Zong, Cindy, and Fanku and they belong to two main camps, the good and the evil. The good is to describe people like Ganchin, Fanku, and Cindy — Ganchin follows the rules to be a good monk and doesn’t want to hurt anyone, Fanku and Cindy tries their best to help Ganchin, and in the end Cindy brings everyone to help Ganchin. The evil is to describe people like Master Zong — He was a selfish man who wanted to be wealthy, so he refused to pay Ganchin (and the monks who used to work in his temple) salary, kept his passport and forced Ganchin to go to the airport to send him home. In the short story it shows each character’s types of ethics (especially deontology and utilitarian) for the specific things.
In Holly E. Martin’s article “Falling Into America: The Downside of Transnational Identities in Ha Jin’s A Good Fall,” documenting the hardships of immigrant life in the United States. On the other hand, in Colm Toibin’s article “ Exiles From Themselves: Ha Jin’s characters are far both from China and from their sense of who they are,” explore the Chinese immigrants in the United State are uneasy about their new country. While the obvious ethics is deontology in Ha Jin’s “A Good Fall,” another one is utilitarian ethics. Among the five types of ethics, the reason that deontology ethics and utilitarian ethics are more valuable is because the setting and context of the story point to Chinese immigrants’ difficult life in the new country and how evil treats those good. In order to prove this, I will first explore how hard life can be for immigrants (Ganchin and Fanku’s life), and address the question of how Master Zong treats Ganchin scenes, then explore how these good helped Ganchin successfully “shake off” from the evil Master Zong in terms of our class handout Five-types-of-Ethics. Second, by using the ideas of Holly E. Martin and Colm Toibin to discuss immigrant life, new environment, and social circumstances in immigration fiction. Lastly, I will compare the different feelings for different people when they face the same new environment (immigrants and writers).
The journey of life is so wonderful, but one journey is not yet started, another journey is started, just like the main character Ganchin in “A Good Fall.” Ganchin is a monk who works at Gaolin temple as a Kung Fu teacher. He is an illegal immigrant, lives in the temple on Main street, Flushing, speaks Chinese. Ganchin had never been paid his salary. Fanku works as a cook in a restaurant. His family are all in China. He wants green card status there. He lives in a basement near downtown Flushing. There was a small bathroom, but no kitchen, it had only a cot bed, and a narrow table with metal chairs on either side. Even if the living environment is bad, they face all kinds of difficulties in the new country, they do not want to give up, because all they want is to improve their life (to give a better life to their families in China), get a legal identity and realize their dreams. This is because for many Chinese, the United States is a dream, it represents the high material development and the high spiritual civilization. In this short story, Ganchin follows a rule and tries his best to be a good monk and a good Kung Fu teacher at Gaolin temple. But Master Zong treats Ganchin badly. Master Zong fired Ganchin and kicked him out of the temple since Ganchin’s illness was getting worse. He kept refusing to pay Ganchin’s salary. And the scene that really led to the collapse of Ganchin’s psychological defenses was, “Don’t resist,” Zong hissed. “We won’t hurt you. We’re just helping you go home, to keep you from deteriorating into a bum” (344). The Ethics that Master Zong seems to follow were utilitarianism. “Utilitarianism is the view that the morally right action is the action that produces the most good. There are many ways to spell out this general claim. One thing to note is that the theory is a form of consequentialism: the right action is understood entirely in terms of consequences produced.” Master Zong was a selfish person who did these things to Ganchin in order to get the most benefit for himself. And for his own benefit without regard for others. His behavior of hurting others for his own benefit led Ganchin to want to commit suicide. Fanku and Cindy helped Ganchin a lot in this short story. Fanku first met Ganchin at a traditional Chinese New Year party, although Fanku wasn’t really Ganchin’s friend, he still helped Ganchin. “When Ganchin asked to stay with him for a few days, Fanku welcomed him, saying he was proud to help a friend” (339). Fanku encouraged Ganchin to talk to Master Zong. He always brings some food back to Ganchin. Although he did not have enough money for his lawyer, he lent Ganchin money when Ganchin asked for it. The ethics that Fanku seems to follow were deontology. “In contemporary moral philosophy, deontology is one of those kinds of normative theories regarding which choices are morally required, forbidden, or permitted. In other words, deontology falls within the domain of moral theories or rules that guide and assess our choices of what we ought to do (deontic theories),” When Ganchin asks Fanku for help, Fanku’s choice is to help Ganchin without hesitation. Cindy invited Ganchin to live in her home because she flew abroad a lot, encouraged Ganchin to change, and brought everybody to help Ganchin at the end. The ethics that Cindy seems to follow were deontology and a little bit utilitarianism. It is because when Ganchin needs someone to help him, Cindy’s choice is to encourage him and bring the lawyers to help him suing the temple and turning Ganchin into a celebrity. It shows her choices of what she ought to do when someone needs help. Cindy seems to follow a little bit utilitarianism because she said, “Now there’ll be ways for you to avoid deportation—you can apply for political asylum, or marry a citizen or a legal resident. You know, you’ll be
rich, but not filthy rich like a millionaire who doesn’t have to work” (349) in the short story, she may be selfish in helping Ganchin, and may want to marry Ganchin so she tells him that you can marry a citizen or a legal resident, just because she is an ABC (American Born Chinese) and an American citizen.
In Holly E. Martin and Colm Toibin’s article, they both explore Chinese immigrants in the United States are uneasy about their new country. Many Chinese immigrants feel that when they first arrive in the United States, everything is new and everything is good. May say to the friend: here is too good! Come and have a look! But after one year is another feeling, people will know that the senator only saw the appearance of life, here life is much richer and much more complex than before. No extra money, no skills, no friends, different languages, different cultures. It was then that people realized it was not easy to integrate into the life of a new country. Ganchin is a new immigrant, he taught martial arts in China but he only speaks Chinese, so he works at a Chinese temple on Main street — a place where many new immigrants live and work, it shows “Once inhabitants of a sprawling and familiar culture, they are now confined to a few rooms, a few streets” (Toibin). At the same time, it also shows “the American type of success was not for everyone. You must learn how to sell yourself there and must change yourself to live a new life” (Martin). Ganchin wants to succeed in America, wants to pay off the money he owes in China, and let his parents live a better life than before in China. When he failed and faced the blow, Cindy encouraged him to change a new way of life, and Cindy suggests he teaches martial arts outside of the temple. But he asked Cindy back “For that I’ll have to know some English, won’t I?” (339) and says “I’m too old to change” (343). If Ganchin had followed Cindy’s suggestion, his results might have changed. The life of new Chinese immigrants in the United States is different from what they imagine. They imagine that everything is new and everything is good. But the reality is that: “hope has been crushed rather than abandoned, in which the struggle to find a place to live becomes as much a daily battle within the self as it is with society” (Toibin). Many undocumented people want to have a legal identity in the United States, even if the cost of more money is willing to, many people try again and again but not to succeed, their hopes are shattered again and again. Fanku wanted to have a green card, but when he heard some news: “A girl at Olivia Salon has spent more than eighty thousand dollars for attorney’s fees but still can’t get A green card” (340). He was afraid that he would be like the girl who works at Olivia Salon, after spending a lot of money his hope would still be crushed. And he would feel that he would want to do something illegal when he really needed money — rob someone. While he is struggling with himself, the society and money, he always remembers his responsibility: I have to send money to my wife and daughter back home as well” (340). Their lives, some of them ups and downs, some of them uneventful, but in any case, they were out-and-out foreigners, struggling, broken and remaking in a strange land, with an understanding of American society.