Times Book Award for her first book, The Joy Luck Club, Tan has not been considered as a mainstream American writer (luminarium, barclayagency.com). Instead, she has been acclaimed as the Asian American role model by community organizations despite her claim that her creations are not social statements but simply literature that talks about human connectedness (Salon, 1995). Perhaps in her sub-consciousness, Tan finds her Chinese identity too powerful to be discarded even if she tries to. Instead, she weaves the Oriental spiritual ideas as well as the symbols and character traits from China in her books that are mainly set in America. Olivia, the protagonist of her novel, The Hundred Secret Senses (1995), is Tan's alter ego, trying to discard her Chinese identity and assimilate with the mainstream American culture but finally reconciling to her social identity that hinges on finding her life's meaning through spirituality. Like Olivia, Tan is a Chinese-American and suffers from the conflict of this dual identity. Yet, she knows that neither she nor Olivia can never discard their Chinese identity completely. To make Olivia recognize this, Tan uses Chinese symbols and ideas that draw Olivia towards China. She harps on animal instincts and symbols from Chinese lives, tempered with a western view of these, that Olivia finds interesting.
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