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READING

COMPREHENSION : BAC

 READ THE TEXT : “ BYRON YEE - Discovering a Paper Son”, then


complete the
activities.

GENERAL COMPREHENSION

 This text is an extract from:

 a short story
 a diary
 a personal testimony

 In what country is the scene set ? Justify your answer by quoting from the
text.
.......................................................................................................................................................

 Complete the following grid with information about the narrator:

Name Race Occupation Country of origin

 Say why the narrator embarked on a quest for his family’s history. (20
words)
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................

 In order to achieve his quest, the narrator visited three places. Name them
in a chronological order .
...............................................................................
................................................................................
................................................................................
DETAILED COMPREHENSION :

 Suggest a title for each part .

 (l. 1-9) : ..............................................................................................


 (l. 10-25) : ...........................................................................................
 (l. 26-40) : ...........................................................................................
 (l. 40- the end) : ...................................................................................

  Concentrate on the passage from line1 to line 9

Fill in the following grid with information about the narrator’s father .
Using your own words,
say what you know of the narrator’s father when he arrived in the United
States.

 ( name, age ,year of arrival ,social status ,language)

Name Age Year of arrival in the Social Status Language


United States spoken

.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................

  Concentrate on the passage from line10 to line 25

“The Ellis Island of the West” (lines 12-13)

Where exactly is this island located ? Fill in the grid :

The island’s real City State Part of the US where it is


name located

 Explain the origin of this name.

.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................

 Which American act of law made Asian immigration difficult?


.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................
 Use the context to guess the meaning of the noun “offspring” . Tick  :
 parents  cousins  children  grandchildren

 Quote the trick that Asian immigrants used in order to get round the law .
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................
 What nickname were Asian immigrants given as a result of that trick ?
.......................................................................................................................................................

 Concentrate on the passage from line 26 to line 40 (... to the United


States)
What did the narrator hope to find at the National Archives in San Bruno ?
.......................................................................................................................................................
 Using suitable link words, list the 3 discoveries that the narrator made
when he visited that place .
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................

 In which city did the narrator’s father actually land ?


.......................................................................................................................................................

 Why did the narrator’s father avoid going through customs on Angel Island?
Tick the right answer .

Angel Island was too far  Customs officials on Angel Island asked too many questions
The narrator’s father was too young

 From line 36 to line 40, the adjective “alleged” is used twice. Use the
context to guess the meaning of the adjective.
Tick  the right answer .
 LIGHT  SUPPOSED  TRUE
 What did the customs officers’ questions reveal?
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................

  Concentrate on the passage from line 40 (the lengthy interrogation) to


the end
True or False ? Justify your answer in your own words.

 Among the following adjectives, which one best describes the narrator’s
reaction at the end of his quest .

 overjoyed startled  angry  sad/upset


Explain the narrator’s reaction . (40 words)
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................
.......................................................................................................................................................

What you need to know

 CHINESE IMMIGRATION : (Gold Rush, 1848-1849) China was experiencing a great famine
(food shortage) and people wanted to gain a better education with more opportunities in the
United States than they would receive if they stayed in China. Many immigrants were also
seeking freedom since there were many wars going on in China as well.

In the 1870’s, there was a depression in the United States and Chinese Laborers became
scapegoats for high unemployment and low wages

 A "paper son" is a term used for young Chinese male immigrants coming to the United States prior
to 1944 who claimed to be a son of a citizen but were, in fact, sons on paper only. The identity papers
were established by American citizens of Chinese descent who left the United States to travel back to
China. Upon returning, they would claim a marriage and the birth of several sons.
These imposters were called paper sons.
 The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was the only law in American history to deny citizenship or entry
based upon a specific nationality. The only immigrants allowed into the US were merchants, students,
diplomats, and sons of citizens. Prior to this law, there was an open immigration policy to the United
States.

The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 destroyed city hall which contained all birth records in San
Francisco. As a result, thousands of Chinese men claimed to have been born in San Francisco and the
US government had no choice but to accept their claims.

When a young Chinese boy attempted to enter the US as a son of a citizen, he was subjected to a
rigorous interrogation by US Immigration Officials to determine if the applicant was a true son of a
citizen. Many of these boys would have to memorize details of their life in China and these facts would
need to match up with other interviews conducted, usually with the father and other witnesses. These
records are stored in various Regional Archives of the National Archives of the United States.

 ANGEL ISLAND IMMIGRATION STATION : It is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay.
Angel Island is the largest island in San Francisco Bay. It was named after Ellis Island, the first
immigration station in New York. It was in use from 1910 to 1940.

Angel island was the primary processing point for Chinese Immigrants entering the US from 1910 to
1940. While Europeans were processed within hours, Chinese immigrants were detained from 2
weeks to 3 years before being admitted to the US or denied entry.

From 1910-1940, immigrants wishing to come to the United States were detained on Angel Island
which served as an immigration station. Detainees were forced to sleep in barracks, which were
large rooms that were often cramped and uncomfortable because of the number or people
forced to sleep in a room. Immigrants slept in bunk beds.
The interrogation process was a lengthy process in which an immigrant was asked several questions
to try and prove their status.
If the detainees answered a question wrong or implied that they were not who they claimed to be,
the immigrant would have to be deported and return to their country of origin.

BYRON YEE : He was born in Wichita, Kansas on November 4th, 1961. His family moved to
Oklahoma City ( Oklahoma) in 1965. His father, Bing Quai Yee was a geologist for Exxon, an oil
company and his mother Rosalind Yee was an elementary teacher. Byron now lives in Los Angeles .
He is a famous comedian and actor. He has been seen on several comedy shows on TV .
As a kid growing up in Oklahoma, he knew very little about his father’s side of the family. He
remembers asking about where he came from but he never talked about it much and he didn’t care to
pursue it. As a result, he never had much curiosity about his heritage .Through documents in the
National Archives of the United States, he was able to uncover the story of his father’s journey to
America.

 “PAPER SON” = One-Man Show: Comedian Byron Yee explains the life behind his `Paper Son'
“PAPER SON” is Byron Yee’s acclaimed solo show about growing up in Oklahoma, moving to
California, becoming a stand-up comedian, then finding his heritage. He was pushed into a journey of
his past. “PAPER SON” was awarded Best of the San Francisco Fringe as well as Outstanding Solo
Show at the New York Fringe Festival.
"ONE MAN'S PERSONAL ODYSSEY IN SEARCH OF HIS HERITAGE. AND YET IT IS THE
STORY OF US ALL AND IN TELLING IT YEE TOUCHES SOMETHING UNIVERSAL "awarded
Best of the San Francisco

 READ THE TEXT : “ BYRON YEE - Discovering a Paper Son”, then


complete the
activities.

GENERAL COMPREHENSION

 This text is an extract from:


 a short story
 a diary
 a personal testimony / an identity quest  It is a third person narrative.

 In what country does the scene take place ? Justify your answer by
quoting from the text.

The scene takes place in the United States of America, in California more
precisely. “ My father was an immigrant. He came to America ...” // “ he started at
Angel Island, located in the middle of San Francisco Bay “ The National Archives regional
office in San Bruno, California “ // the word United States is repeated several times
throughout the story.

 Complete the following grid with information about the narrator:

Name Race Occupation Country of origin


BYRON YEE ASIAN / ACTOR / one-man show China but born in The
CHINESE comedian United States of America
= a stand-up comedian
 Say why Byron Yee embarked on a quest for his family’s history. (20 words)
He embarked on a quest for his family’s history to find inspiration for his
one-man show in which he explains the life behind his “Paper Son”, He
says that he wanted to learn about his father’s history, about his past . He
knew nothing about his father’s past, consequently about his origins.
Byron was pushed into a journey of his past which helped him find his
family heritage.  it is about his father’s journey from China to America.
 In order to achieve his quest, the narrator visited three places. Name them in a
chronological order .

- Angel island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay


- The National Archives regional office in San Bruno, California
- The national Archives in Massachusetts

DETAILED COMPREHENSION :
 Suggest a title for each part .

 (l. 1-9) : FAMILY BACKGROUND


 (l. 10-25) : US LAW VERSUS CHINESE IMMIGRATION AT ANGEL
ISLAND
 (l. 26-40) : SEEKING HIS FATHER DESPERATELY
 (l. 40- the end) : PAPER SON : THE PRICE TO PAY TO BE AN AMERICAN
CITIZEN
  Concentrate on the passage from line1 to line 9

Name Age Year of arrival in the Social Status Language


United States spoken
BING QUAIL 15 YEARS 1938 An IMMIGRANT/ CHINESE
YEE OLD a Chinese
laborer
Bing Quail Yee who is Byron’s father immigrated to the United States
of America in 1938 at the time when China was invaded by the
Japanese. When he came to the US , he was only 15years old and he
only spoke Chinese.

  Concentrate on the passage from line10 to line 25

“The Ellis Island of the West” (lines 12-13)


Where exactly is this island located ? Fill in the grid :

The island’s real City State Part of the US where it is


name located
ANGEL ISLAND SAN CALIFORNIA IN THE WEST
FRANCISCO
(in the
middle of San
Francisco
Bay)

 Explain the origin of this name.

Angel Island was called the Ellis Island of the West because all the Chinese
who came to the United States had to enter the country through this
island . If immigrants were traveling west from China, they would reach
San Francisco (the West Coast) first. Immigrants traveling east from
Europe would travel through Ellis Island located on the East Coast of the
United.
 Which American act of law made Asian immigration difficult?
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 made Asian immigration difficult
because it was based on race alone . A law which aimed to prevent
Chinese Laborers from entering the United States;
It was the first law that discriminated against a group of people based on
ethnicity. ( Chinese laborers were prohibited to immigrate to the US.) It
was the only law in American history to deny citizenship or entry based
upon a specific nationality. It strictly limited the number of Chinese that
could immigrate to the United States, or enter the country.

Background Information:
In the 1870’s, there was a depression in the United States and Chinese
Laborers became scapegoats for high unemployment and low wages.

 Use the context to guess the meaning of the noun “offspring” . Tick  :
 parents  cousins  children  grandchildren

 Quote the trick that Asian immigrants used in order to get round the law .
“US law states that children of American citizens are automatically
granted citizenship themselves, no matter where they were born. Some
immigrants claimed to be legitimate offspring (progéniture) of US citizens
when in fact they were not.”  in other words, they were illegal
immigrants.
Background Information:
The identity papers were established by American citizens of Chinese
descent who left the United States to travel back to China. Upon returning,
they would claim a marriage and the birth of several sons. They would
then sell the immigration papers of their non-existent sons to unrelated
young men who wanted to come to America to seek their fortune on Gold
Mountain.

 What nickname were Asian immigrants given as a result of that trick ?


These imposters were called paper sons.
A "paper son" is a term used for young Chinese male immigrants coming
to the United States prior to 1944 who claimed to be a son of a citizen but
were, in fact, sons on paper only.

 Concentrate on the passage from line 26 to line 40 (... to the United States)
What did the narrator hope to find at the National Archives in San Bruno ?
He hopes to find his father’s immigration file or records. // to find the
records related to his father.
 Using suitable link words, list the 3 discoveries that the narrator made when he visited
that place .
Even though Byron did not find his father’s immigration file in San Bruno, he
found his grandfather’s records which helped him trace back his father (his
father was actually mentioned in his records) who had sailed east (to Boston ) in
order to avoid entering the US through Angel Island . (He discovered that his
father didn’t pass through Angel Island but through Boston. ) Consequently, his
quest ended at the national Archives in Massachusetts where he was able to find
it. (his father’s immigration file. )
 In which city did the narrator’s father actually land ?
He actually landed in Boston, Massachusetts.
 Why did the narrator’s father avoid going through customs on Angel Island?
Tick the right answer .
Angel Island was too far  Customs officials on Angel Island asked too many questions
The narrator’s father was too young

 From line 36 to line 40, the adjective “alleged” is used twice. Use the context to
guess
the meaning of the adjective. Tick  the right answer .

 LIGHT  SUPPOSED ( suppose/présumé)  TRUE


 What did the customs officers’ questions reveal?
“lengthy interrogation”  lengthy = long/interminable
Their questions revealed that the customs officers were suspicious. They were
suspecting that most Chinese immigrants were actually paper sons and wanted
to make sure they were not. That is why they asked so many questions. = At
that time most Chinese immigrants were being suspected of being paper sons.

Background Information:When a young Chinese boy attempted to enter the US as a son of


a citizen, he was subjected to a rigorous interrogation by US Immigration Officials to
determine if the applicant was a true son of a citizen. Many of these boys would have to
memorize details of their life in China and these facts would need to match up with other
interviews conducted, usually with the father and other witnesses. These records are
stored in various Regional Archives of the National Archives of the United States.

  Concentrate on the passage from line 40 (the lengthy interrogation) to the end
True or False ? Justify your answer in your own words.

TRUE The narrator discovered that his father was in fact an illegal immigrant.

 Among the following adjectives, which one best describes the narrator’s reaction at the
end of his quest .
 overjoyed  surprised  angry  sad
Explain the narrator’s reaction . “to floor “ = terrasser / couper le sifllet
Byron explained that at first he was completely floored by the news . He must
have been taken aback when he discovered the truth about his father and his
own family history. At the end of his quest ,he may have had the feeling of
having been betrayed by his own father when he found out that Yee Wee Thing
the man who had been known as his grand-father was actually his uncle.
Consequently he realized that over the past years he hadn’t really known his
father . He had been an illegal immigrant , a paper son . How frustrating this
must have been!
However we can easily imagine that later he must have been thankful to his
father and uncle for what they had to do so that he could be there today. One
wrong answer between them and he would not be there. It was for his family’s
sake!