The main purpose of my blog is to argue that Knox used literary techniques from woman’s fiction and abolitionist writers to demolish anti-Chinese sentiments and promote anti-Chinese slavery. In addition, she used elements from both of these literary genres to tear down the stigma behind Chinese immigrants and show how these Chinese slaves needed the help from the American people to acquire freedom. This of course is my interpretation of what Knox was doing with her novel. This guide of questions is designed to direct a reading group’s discussion and help readers come up with their own interpretation of what Knox was accomplishing by crafting a powerful, yet eloquent novel.
Questions on the Craft of Jessie Juliet Knox
1. Have you read any other novels like In the House of the Tiger? If so, do you see any parallels of differences?
2. What type of novel would you consider In the House of the Tiger to be? Is it popular? Is it literary? Or is it just an ordinary book that should not be read?
3. Throughout the novel, readers are presented with different stories of Chinese slaves. Why do you think Knox does this? Do you think this helps her exemplify the historical and cultural moments of the United States during the 20th century? Do you think this made her readers realize the crucial realities of the Chinese slave trade that was happening?
4. Within the novel, readers see how Knoxs conveys the brutality of Chinese parents, highbinders, and women. Do you think In the House of the Tiger can be viewed as an Anti-Chinese novel?
5. Besides Woman’s Fiction and Abolitionist Writing, do you think In the House of the Tiger can presents itself as another literary form or genre?
6. Besides Chinese slavery, what other issues do you think Knox highlights in her novel?
7. Do you think Knox’s novel is trying to reform Anti-Chinese attitudes? Do you think she wants Americans to let go of their prejudiced attitudes and instead be Anti-Chinese Slavery?
8. What do you think Knox was trying to accomplish?
Questions about Characters within the novel
- Who is Ah Ching and how is she important to the novel as a whole? What is it about her that makes her such an endearing character? How is she a heroine, and how does she shape the novel?
- Why do you think Knox concentrates more on developing her Chinese characters rather than Donaldina Cameron? In other words, why does she focus so much of her novel on developing her characters’ hardships and brutal experiences?
- Who is Donaldina Cameron and why is she important? Do you think she is a representation of freedom?
- Do you see any connections between the Chinese girls? For example are there any dreadful hardships that Little Moon, Ah Ping, and Yuen Luey all endure? How do their experiences differ and how are they the same?
- Why do you think Knox does not name any of the characters who trade, sell, and buy Chinese slaves?
- Who becomes the new interpreter for the Mission Home? And how is her life similar to Tai Loy?
- Which two characters are saved on Christmas Day?
- Besides Ah Ching who is the main heroine of the novel, why do you think the other minor heroines are significant? How do they contribute to the novel as a whole? What does Knox accomplish by focusing on many rather than only one Chinese slave?
Questions on important themes and motifs
- How does Knox treat religion? How does she convey Chinese Gods? Is it different than the way she conveys Christian themes?
- How does Knox portray and treat the idea of freedom? What types of symbols does she use to convey freedom?
- Why do you think Knox emphasizes the tearing of dreams and hope? How does this show the cruelty behind the slave trade?
- What does the breaking of family bonds symbolize? How are Chinese men portrayed in this idea?
- What other themes are presented in the novel? And how do they characterize the novel as a whole?
- How does the slave trade of black Americans compare with the slave trade of Chinese girls? And what does this convey?
- Throughout the novel readers see images of corruption, deceit, and abuse among different Chinese characters. Why are these important? What do this say about Chinese culture? Do you think this is a representation that whites are in a sense more moral than the Chinese?