M. Butterfly

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Comrade Chin Character Analysis

A member of the Red Guards, a paramilitary arm of the Communist Party in China. Song communicates with Comrade Chin often, to pass on the classified information he gathers from Gallimard. Chin is severe and unfeminine, and Song derides her for her lack of womanly charm. She also plays Suzuki, a down-to-earth servant, in the reenactment of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly.

Comrade Chin Quotes in M. Butterfly

The M. Butterfly quotes below are all either spoken by Comrade Chin or refer to Comrade Chin . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Plume edition of M. Butterfly published in 1989.
Act 2, Scene 7 Quotes

Miss Chin? Why, in the Peking Opera, are women’s roles played by men? … Because only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act.

Related Characters: Song Liling (speaker), Comrade Chin
Related Symbols: Madame Butterfly
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

Miss Chin visits to follow up on Song's gathering of classified information from Gallimard. Before she leaves, Song asks her why she thinks the Peking Opera might cast men in all roles, including the roles of women. Miss Chin theorizes that it is a remnant of patriarchal China, but in this quote, Song refutes her guess and says it is because "only a man knows how a woman is supposed to act."

Song's seduction of Gallimard works because she acts as the Perfect Woman--that is, not a real woman. She is submissive to Gallimard's every whim, and grows only more attached to him the more cruelly he treats her. Few real women would act this way--hence the implausibility of Madame Butterfly--yet it is the masculine fantasy to have a woman who submits to these stereotypes, as the converse of such fantasies is the reinforcement of the cruel, dominant man as the Perfect Man. Here, Song reasons that men play the parts of women because they are not real women, but rather the fantasies of male composers and librettists, understood only by male actors who submit to the same stereotypes. Thus, Song, as a man, is perfectly cast for the role of the Perfect Woman. 

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Comrade Chin Character Timeline in M. Butterfly

The timeline below shows where the character Comrade Chin appears in M. Butterfly. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 5
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
...for him to come back. It has been three years since Pinkerton left her. Comrade Chin, a member of China’s Red Guard who has not yet featured in Gallimard’s story, appears... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Comrade Chin, still playing the role of Suzuki, helps Butterfly, played by Song, change into her wedding... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Comrade Chin appears onstage. Gallimard, distressed, turns to Song — who has been sitting quietly onstage this... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
...the year is 1961, and Gallimard has just left their apartment for the evening. Comrade Chin tells Song to find out when the Americans plan to start bombing Vietnam, and which... (full context)
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Chin remarks on Song’s ability to keep so much information in her head. Song reminds Chin... (full context)
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Chin leaves the stage. Gallimard peers out from the wings, confirming that she is gone. Song... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
The night after her dramatic conversation with Gallimard, Song paces their apartment while Comrade Chin reads from a notepad. Gallimard is watching their dialogue from another part of the stage.... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Song, still recounting the events of the previous night, tells Comrade Chin about a revelation that struck her while she was trying to craft a response to... (full context)
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
As Comrade Chin prepares to leave, Song asks why, in her opinion, the Peking Opera always casts men... (full context)
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Comrade Chin leaves the stage, and Gallimard calls out to Song. He tells her that he would... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 9
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
...drag Song onto the stage and mime beating her. She is wearing male clothing, distinctly Chinese in style. Gallimard tells his audience that they said a hurried goodbye before he returned... (full context)
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Memory, Imagination, and Self-Deception Theme Icon
Comrade Chin forces Song to respond to a series of humiliating questions. She claims that Song has... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 10
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Femininity and Male Ego Theme Icon
It is 1970, four years after Gallimard’s departure from China. Song is laboring on a commune in rural China, and has been for the past... (full context)
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
Comrade Chin tells Song he can serve the people of China, but that he will not be... (full context)
Orientalism, Imperialism, and Cultural Conflict Theme Icon
Love and Cruelty Theme Icon
...“plaything” and will not be able to command his loyalty in France. He reminds Comrade Chin that Gallimard is white, and tells Chin that she doesn’t understand “the mind of a... (full context)