November 5, 2012
Family and Cultural Conflicts
It has often been said that coming to America is the start of a new life for many immigrant families. The novels Mona and the Promised Land by Gish Jen, and Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez, it is said that “American means being whatever you want” (Jen 49). Mona and Rodriguez both strive to reach that “American dream.” They take the initiative throughout the novel and seek what they want to become. However, the novels show that in order for Mona and Rodriguez to become what they want, they have to make sacrifices. From losing their culture to losing their strong relationships with their parents, Mona and Rodriguez will have to endure consequences of their decision to become what they want to be. Mona and Rodriguez were raised up to believe their parent’s religion and traditions. To begin, Mona has an Asian appearance, which automatically differentiates her, and Rodriguez has an accent, which also distinguishes him as different. The differences that set Mona apart from Americans lead her to decide that she wants to practice Judaism because she lives in a neighborhood that is dominated by the Jewish community, and wants to be more accepted in that community. The dissimilarities that set Rodriguez apart from Americans lead him to deepen his understanding of the American culture. Mona and Rodriguez believe that religion and culture are two of the primary instruments through which they can create and develop a new identity. Mona states, “Jewish is American, American means being whatever you want, and I happen to pick being Jewish” (Jen 49). Mona relates being Jewish with being American and she wants to be an American because then there is no limit to what she can accomplish or become. However, Mona still has people constantly trying to bring her back to her Chinese culture. Helen, her mother, tries to trap Mona in her Chinese culture by telling her that...