missabnormal: (Memoirs)
[personal profile] missabnormal
Trigger warning for purposefully broken speech of a Japanese character.

So, when we last left off, Pinkerton had no plans of marrying anyone. But we open up this chapter with the reveal that Pinkerton ended up marrying a Japanese woman. However, he "provided himself with an establishment-- creating his menage in quite his own way and entirely for his own comfort". Again, this is where the white saviour undertones start to come in.

A marriage-broker had helped him out, and again, this character was also in Puccini's opera, called Goro. However, Goro does seem to be a fairly selfish character, but more cynical. Anyways, this marriage-broker helped Pinkerton find not only a wife, but also a house which he's leased for 999 years. This is not "that he could hope for the felicity of residing there with her so long, but because, being a mere 'barbarian,' he could not make other legal terms". He had given the excuse of hoping to live there for a long time to his wife. However, he doesn't tell her that "the lease was determinable, nevertheless, at the end of any month, by the mere neglect to pay rent". Why? Because "details were distasteful to Pinkerton".

Basically, this means that when he leaves his Japanese wife, she'll probably end up on the verge of poverty.

We also get a description of the house, which is the traditional Japanese house. However, some artisans had "made the paper walls of the pretty house eye-proof, and, with their own adaptations of American hardware, the opening cunningly lockable. The rest was Japanese"

And when Cho-Cho-San, his bride, asks why he went through all the trouble, Pinkerton tells her, "to keep out those who are out, and in those who are in". So far, she's fine with it, and she has one maid with the house. However, when she realises that not even her family is allowed to visit her, she becomes more reluctant. 

Pinkerton apparently did not like how they had all come with lanterns to the wedding, and he thinks that "they would be a trifle wearisome". And there's more of the white saviour complex starting to show up. Notice how Pinkerton is banning Cho-Cho-San from seeing her family on the basis of them being too 'different' so to speak. This is what goes on in a white-poc interracial relationship based in racial fetishization.

Most often, the partner of colour (usually a woman of colour) will be forced to prioritize her white husband. She'll most often give up her language and even her culture in order to be with this man, who merely sees her as subservient and docile. Sometimes, she may not even be allowed to attend functions in her ethnic community, so she'll often end up lonely, especially if she's moving from her home country.

Anyways, Cho-Cho-San asks him, "You thing so?", and this is the first instance of exaggeratedly-broken English that clearly marks her as the 'other'. Pinkerton tells her that she "will have to get along without ancestors".

At first, Cho-Cho-San thinks about running away from him, yet remembers how her relatives had all agreed that this marriage would be good for her, and decides to remain. Eventually, "she undertook a weak remonstrance-- a very strong one, in fact, for a Japanese wife; but Pinkerton encouraged her domestic autonomy. Her airs of authority were charming. And they grew more and more so".

Notice just how condescending this is. He still clearly sees her as submissive and docile, so he's simply humouring her. She asks him to please let her see her relatives, calling him, "Mr. B.F. Pikkerton", and saying "I lig if you permit my august ancestors visit me. I lig ver' moach if you please permit that unto me".

Pinkerton merely laughs and says no. This was changed in both the play and the opera. There was no mention that Butterfly could not see her relatives at all in those versions. Pinkerton ends up kicking them out of his house, however, after they disown her for converting to Christianity. In fact, he is toned down quite significantly in the opera, as he does have some moments of good nature, such as comforting Butterfly after she is disowned, and wanting to make amends by taking his half-Japanese son to America. Yet still, Puccini did portray him as not a very good man.

So Pinkerton does not understand how important it is to Cho-Cho-San. In fact, "it must be confessed that he did not try to understand". Sayre explains that "in Japan filial affection is the paramount motive", and that her ancestors, both living and dead, "were his wife's sole link to such eternal life as she hoped for".

Yet Pinkerton decides to give her a different motive and even a different religion. He basically tells Cho-Cho-San about "what he called the easier Western plan of salvation", which she takes very seriously. However, he struck deeper than he thought, because Cho-Cho-San secretly went to the church to convert to Christianity.

The chapter ends with the statement that Cho-Cho-San stopped asking Pinkerton to let her relatives visit. Already, the dynamics between Pinkerton and Cho-Cho-San are very much that of a fetishistic relationship. Pinkerton doesn't take Cho-Cho-San very seriously, whereas Cho-Cho-San takes him very, very seriously and takes each word to heart. In his head, she is a submissive Japanese woman who does not question the authority of the white man.

This kind of work is one of the foundations for the fetishization of East Asian women, who are stereotyped as being subservient, delicate, and docile. A lot of white men have the idea that East Asian women will gladly be their barefoot housewife who does not challenge or question him, and who will always be available to spread her legs whenever he wants sex. I know that not all white man-Asian women relationships are like this. The ones I just described always have roots in fetishization, where the white man expects the Asian woman to conform to Western habits, language, and thinking, yet will make no effort to accommodate her or even learn a little of her language and culture.

It should also be noted that in Puccini's opera, Pinkerton does not even tell Butterfly to convert; it's a decision that she made, yet got disowned for. And it affects her horribly by the end. I will discuss that issue in a later chapter.

I hope you all enjoyed, and I hope to see you in the next chapter.
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