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Two Ways to Belong in America

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Two Ways to Belong in America

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  • November 2011
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Two Ways to Belong in America by Bharati Mukherjee
In “Two Ways to Belong in America,” Mukherjee talks about the struggles of two sisters adjusting to foreign culture. Mukherjee and her sister, Mira, have opposing views on citizenship to non-native countries. Mukherjee shares her story with effective use of language to make it unique, as well as relatable to other foreigners to a new country. Her neutral tone makes the story special, especially considering the context of the story.

Usually, when there are differing points of view in a piece of writing, it is very common for the author to pick the side that he or she supports and persuade the audience that the chosen side is the right choice. Mukherjee writes uniquely; her tone remains neutral even after she establishes the opposing points of view from her and Mira. In her writing, Mukherjee merely states the standpoints of both characters, and lets the audience themselves decide where they stand. This at times can be more effective than the normal ways of persuasion. Mukherjee makes it clear that she can see her sister’s argument, and therefore is not fully sure about hers. Thus, she leaves it up to the audience.

Mukherjee’s diction is one that asks for attention as well. To convey her story, she uses very simple word choice; nothing fancy is found anywhere throughout the essay. Questionable words such as “Indianness” are used in her writing. This, perhaps, is a result of guilt, or sense of realization that she was an Indian before she was American. Perhaps she realized that she came to the country without knowing a word of English and is now a successful writer, at the cost of her native heritage. She mentions she has a white husband, which broke her family tradition which lasted for at least 3000 years. This was the conflict that the story brought up, which may have affected her writing at the time. The sense of emotion within her was what compelled her to write simply yet effectively. After all, she...