The short story “The Jade Peony” by Wayson Choy unveils the feelings of Chinese immigrants coming to Canada. The short story also shows the importance of Canadian culture and how it evolved from the past to the present time. In the story, the Chinese parents are used to their cultural traditions and way of thinking. The kids on the other hand, grew up along side the influences of Western culture and are not used to their parent’s culture. “All our friends are laughing at us!” (p.120) The older sister and older brother are ashamed of their grandmother who goes off hunting for ‘garbage’ materials to make accessories and thus making society label her as ‘harmlessly crazy’. The kids believe that residing in an alien place requires that they all have to become like everyone else. The kids want to fit in to the new culture, even if it means abandoning their old one. “But father, those languages are scientific!” (p.122) The oldest brother complains about learning Chinese, which would have been mandatory in China but doesn’t complain about learning Latin, French, or German, and that he believes is ‘scientific’, and ‘logical’ thus it is ‘acceptable’. In the story, the kids are determined to become more logical and ‘Western’ or suffer being different.
The story’s emphasis on the importance of Canadian and Vancouver culture is shown by the great change in how society and new immigrant’s felt back then compared to the present. The immigrants in the past were afraid of being different. They bring upon themselves the fact that in order to be a Chinese-Canadian, they must change their way of life that would be acceptable to Western culture. Now in Canada, society people have changed, where everyone accepts each other’s culture and are not afraid to show who they really are. Especially in Vancouver, people are trying out different culture, cuisine, and celebrating all different holidays such as Hanukkah and Chinese New Year. The Chinese immigrants back then felt alienated, and felt the obligation to assimilate to their new surroundings even if it means to turn their backs on their old culture. The importance of Vancouver’s culture is now redefined. Unlike the past, Vancouver is now a melting pot for all different cultures across the globe and making every one, regardless of where they are from, feel accepted.