From Immigration to Integration:
An Analytical Essay for Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms
Hiromi Goto’s Chorus of Mushrooms is an immigration narrative documenting the experiences of three generations of Japanese Canadian women both in Canada and abroad. Goto’s story offers a glimpse into the lives of the Canadian immigrants namely, Naoe, her daughter Keiko and her granddaughter Murasaki along with their successes and failures at cultural integration. Although some believe rejecting their cultural past would provide for a better existence, others feel absolutely incapable of separating themselves from it from the very start. Language, diet and lifestyle serve as forms of cultural expression. In her novel, Goto argues that neither through self-assimilation nor by repression of their roots will Canadian immigrants successfully integrate, but ultimately an embrace of both their past and new Canadian culture will lead them to an empowered coexistence. According to Goto, in order to peacefully integrate themselves into their new society, Canadian immigrants must speak the language of the country they live in, while simultaneously retaining their linguistic identity, regardless of age, assimilatory beliefs and upbringing. Despite living in Canada for twenty years, Naoe’s reluctance to speak English, even just a little, is a consequence of her failure to detach herself from the past and adapt to the present: “I could speak [English]…but my lips refuse and my tongue swells in revolt” (15). However, after discovering her ability to change regardless of her age, she embraces her Canadian identity insisting she has “to grow a new mouth” (113) and “live outside the habit of [her] words” (76) as part of moving to a new country. Keiko on the other hand believes that the only way she can truly hope for a happy future is to assimilate herself and her family into Canadian culture by trying to be “as white as her neighbor” (29) and deciding not “to speak a word of Japanese”...
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