Online Educational Resources

Sui Sin Far/Edith Maude Eaton (1865–1914)

First and Significant Publications of Commonly Taught Texts

Early Reviews of Far's Work

  • “Mrs. Spring Fragrance.” The San Francisco Call (July 7, 1912): 31.
  • “Sui Sin Far, the Half Chinese Writer, Tells of Her Career.” The Boston Globe (1912).

Reflections upon Far and Her Work

  • “Fundamentally, I muse, people are all the same. My mother’s race is as prejudiced as my father’s. Only when the whole world becomes as one family will human beings be able to see clearly and hear distinctly. I believe that some day a great part of the world will be Eurasian. I cheer myself with the thought that I am but a pioneer. A pioneer should glory in suffering.”—Sui Sin Far. “Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of an Eurasian.” Independent (January 21, 1890).

Lessons and Discussion Prompts

  • What does Sui Sin Far’s work reveal about the immigrant experience in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century? What is she trying to accomplish with her stories? Keep in mind the cultural and political climate in the United States at that time.

  • Can you find relevance in her work to the issue of immigration in our country today? How could her stories be adapted for today?

  • Research the historical and legal context that informs "The Land of the Free." In "The Land of the Free," how does Sui Sin Far use a sentimental portrayal of family bonds—especially the parent-child bond—to argue against restrictive immigration policies? What echoes do you find in contemporary issues and debates about immigration?

  • In "Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian," what advantages and disadvantages does Sui Sin Far discover in the experience of having a mixed-race identity?

  • Describe the pressures that Far felt to exoticize her "Oriental" identity, as she recounts in "Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian." What does Far's decision to resist those pressures mean for the nature of her writing? How might her writing have been different if she had followed the advice she received?

Useful Biographical and Contextual Information