“Just because some people actually work for their money doesn’t mean they are beneath you.” — Kevin Kwan
Crazy Rich Asians is Kevin Kwan’s first novel, which is written in 2013. It is about Rachel’s trip to Singapore with her boyfriend Nick Young and her reaction upon realizing Nick’s family as the wealthiest family in Asia. Through the fantastic, hilarious and fluctuating journey is in Singapore, the Chinese, American and Singapore culture are all introduced to the readers.
This is absolutely a great book to read. The language is simple yet very humorous, and the stories and universalities the author tried to convey are important to every single person. There are moments that would make us crack up but also moments that would make us cry. The cultural aspect of the book is also worth-recommending as it intertwines Chinese culture with American culture.
Common Dark Side Disclosure of the Upper Class
— book review of Crazy Rich Asians
Sociologists are able to reach a consensus on the definition of social class, which refers to a group of people with similar levels of wealth, influence and status. Even though it is harsh for people from all social class to embrace and live under the concept of social stratification, they would still unanimously acknowledge its existence and massive impact it has on people in this century. The upper class people, who lie on the top of the social stratification pyramid, are a group of people with high extent of income, prestige, education background and power and interestingly share some intrinsic characteristics and personality traits; to not sound biased, there are undeniably some very valuable traits among them and they vary from individual to individual, but there are also some dark side of human nature that Kwan tries to reveal to the audience. In the book Crazy Rich Asians, Kwan introduces his readers to the rich families in Singapore that represent the entire higher social class, and he reveals some common ignoble habits, beliefs and mindsets of the orthodox rich people that he finds ridiculous through his humorous and ironic language, and Kwan aims to resonate a sense of contempt and criticism in his readers.
Through the exaggerated behavior and language of the Young and Leong family, Kwan criticizes the snobbishness of the rich people in Singapore in this book, and conveys his attitude of disgust and contempt toward this type of people. The grandchildren of Sir James Young and Shang Su Yi both end up loving someone with a completely different family background, and the reactions of the relatives of the upper class show how snobby its people could become. For example, when the gossipy people hear that the son of Eleanor Young was dating Rachel Chu, they all assume that Rachel is from the Taiwan Plastics Chu family, and bold expectations about her background are always around her ears at the party.One uncle’s guess goes like “Ah, Rachel, I’ve met your grandfather in Taipei.. Chu Yang Cheng, isn’t it”? A lot of wealthy people in the book are not only snobbish about the family background of their acquaintance, but they also hold arrogant attitudes toward others as Eleanor claimed to be worried about Rachel’s “dubious family background” and actively interferes with her relationship. Likewise, Astrid marries Michael who comes from a relatively rigid background and ends up being treated badly by his in-laws as he cries that he is always “feeling like a piece of meat” around Astrid’s family and makes the confession about Astrid’s wealthy family that “they are born that way-it’s not in their DNA to associate anyone with anyone who isn’t from their class, anyone who isn’t born rich or royal”. The snobbishness of the upper class people leads to one marriage tragedy like this, and it almost prevents another happy couple from being together. From writing about the ruthless behavior, Kwan is able to reveal the snobbish characteristics of the feudalistic people in Singapore.
As a side effect of being snobbish, the crazy rich people in the book are also highly materialistic and ostentatious when it comes to spending money. As described in the book, they are meticulous about clothes and the way they look, and they always compete against each other to stand out, which appears to be ridiculous and unnecessary to the audience. At the wedding of Colin and Araminta, Eddie spends hours dressing up his sons in Gieves&Hawkes bespoke, while the sons try hard to “remember their father’s instructions: look straight into the camera lens, suck your cheeks in, turn to the left, smile, turn to the right, smile, look at Papa adoringly, smile”. The way Eddie sacrifices his entire family to look good in front of the camera and media in an exaggerated way ludicrously reflects the materialism and reputation they seek for. At the wedding, Araminta the bride also appears to be materialistic and paranoid when at the very important moment of her life “one thought alone crossed her mind: Astrid Leong couldn’t even be bothered to wear a new dress to her wedding”. She cares so much about the design and fashion of other people’s dresses, and it doesn’t appear to be relevant to her wedding at all. From writing about the ostentatious wedding and many other events surrounding the wedding, Kwan sarcastically criticizes the materialism some of the typical crazy rich people pursue and its unreasonable appearance to the outsiders.
While a common trait of the upper class people is that they are highly materialistic and spendthrift, it is also ironically depicted that they love petty advantages. The scene at Araminta’s bachelor party at an island is a great example. When the girls hear that everything at the shopping spree is free, the scene is described to be “like Pamplona during the running of the bulls as the girls charged in and ransacked the place in search of outfits that would outdo one another. A fashionista tug-of-war broke out as they began clawing over the most coveted pieces.” The girls would have acted differently if Araminta’s mom weren’t paying for all the clothes; they want to get the gratuitous items as many as they could even though they are already very rich. Likewise, when all the rich ladies travel to Shenzhen, they visit a shopping place with different luxury brand, but everything is designer fake. Eleanor even run into another wealthy woman shopping designer-fakes at the place. Even if the ladies find the excuse that “everyone knows we can afford the real thing”, they still want the small advantage and the feeling of satisfaction from it. Both example demonstrate that as rich as the upper class people are, they still act recklessly when there are monetary advantages they could take.
Despite of the fact that a lot of wealthy people from the upper class are well-educated and elegant, there are still a lot of people who are surprisingly wealthy but snobbish, materialistic and love to take small advantages. Kwan spends many lines in the book writing about their ridiculous behavior and reveals these dark sides of human nature and negative qualities of the seemingly-decent people in the society. While being rich, people should always be kind and avoid being snobby, materialistic and paranoid as pathetically described in Crazy Rich Asians.
Information: Crazy Rich Asians- Kevin Kwan
Date: 12/28/2018 revised in June, 2019
revision comment: I think that my previous essay was highly biased, so I changed a lot of wording and tried not to be so stereotypical. I also focused more on Kwan’s argument instead of my own thoughts.