The Struggle of Cultural Assimilation:
An Analysis of Cultural Clash in “Shrapnel Shards on Blue Water”
In “Shrapnel Shards on Blue Water” by Lê Thi Diem Thúy, the narrator expresses her longing for Vietnam, her home country, and how she feels that she and other Vietnamese people represent “fragmented shards” in the American culture- isolated members of a foreign culture. She portrays her emotions almost as if she is pursuing an actual person by using the pronoun “you” in the first stanza to address the actual country of Vietnam. Also, the author highlights the issue of trying to reconnect with her ethnic culture by contrasting an activity performed by her mother in Vietnam with an activity undertaken by her father in the United States. Essentially, the author asserts her position that the only solution to overcoming this sense of disconnection from the American culture is by convincing the American people that there is more substance and depth to the Vietnamese culture as compared to the mainstream Vietnamese culture most familiar to Americans through the Vietnam War. The narrator conveys her desire to escape American culture, but she realizes that the path to Vietnam is, indeed, long and difficult. Initially, the narrator expresses intense longing for her home country by stating, “every day I beat a path to run to you.” The imagery that is associated with this description depicts the narrator’s conflicted feelings of yearning to travel to Vietnam, a place where she would not feel like a “fragmented shard.” The narrator’s difficulty in achieving this goal is exemplified in the imagery of how her path to Vietnam “winds and unwinds.” This imagery conveys the idea that the path to Vietnam is complex, further supporting the author’s position that traveling back to Vietnam would entail a difficult journey. Essentially, the author expresses her wish to travel to Vietnam and to escape the “signposts marked in another language” of the United States, signposts that...
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