Immigrant Experience

Topics: Amy Tan, Stereotype, The Culture Pages: 6 (2355 words) Published: September 21, 2011
Over the course of hundreds of years, immigrants from numerous countries have sought out to search for a better life in a new place. Many have come over to America with hopes and dreams that they wish to accomplish, but along the way they have also discovered the bitter reality of the immigrant experience and hardships that they must overcome on their journey to America. Based on the readings of Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, and Elva Trevino’s Barefoot Heart, the immigrant experience is seen through the eyes of the main characters. All of the authors offer a different perspective from each character as to how the immigrant experience is like, what they have to encounter, and the hardships that come along the way. One thing that ties them all together is their experience as an immigrant. It is the dream of every immigrant, to live a worry free life in a new country, although what comes along with the experience is having to adapt to new surroundings, overcoming the typical stereotypes, clash between two cultures and financial issues.

One of the ways which the immigrant experience is displayed is through the main characters learning how to adapt to new surroundings. In the story, The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan shows the four Chinese mothers struggling to adapt to this change in scenery. When one of the mothers, Suyuan Woo, came over to America in 1949 after losing everything she had back in China, she didn’t let regrets hold her back. As her daughter, Jing-Mei Woo quotes, “[b]ut she never looked back with regret. There were so many ways for things to get better” (Tan 141). From this quote, it shows how Suyuan Woo looks forward to the future and to the change that she is about to face once she’s here in America. She also believes and has the hopes of being able to achieve anything in America. With the progression of an immigrant’s journey, the growth as an individual also occurs. Like Ying-Ying St. Clair stated, “[b]ut now that I am old, moving every year closer to the end of my life, I also feel closer to the beginning” (Tan 83). As they age, they also experience a whole new life in a new place which offers them a new beginning, letting them start over on a clean slate. Although, having to adapt to change can never be too promising or something to look forward to, which is why many times an immigrant would fight to let go to what they have to hold on a better and brighter future in a new country. As Esperanza describes her neighbor, “[s]he still sighs for her pink house, and then I think she cries. I would” (Cisneros 77). Although she is being given a new beginning in a new country, having to adapt to a change in scenery will never come easy. Sometimes, the change that takes place happens in the people that they meet along the way. “I don’t have any friends except Cathy who is only my friend till Tuesday” (Cisneros 14). Here, Esperanza deals with having to make new friends as her current ones depart. Along the experience, immigrants are bound to meet numerous of people who will come and go in their lives as they continue to settle down. Often times, immigrants also have to adapt to the change that occurs in themselves, as seen through Elva’s own experience, “[i] experienced my heart and soul being transported to the other side of the world while my small body remained at the migrant camp” (Hart 96). As their journey continues, immigrants get accustomed to the life that they are supposed to live while they still feel attached to the memories that remind them of where they came from, their home. Many times, they fight to hold on as much as they fight to let go of the things that remind them of where they came from.

Another part that comes along with the immigrant experience is having to overcome the typical stereotypes. Many times people make assumptions as to what their abilities are, what their position in the social class is, and also their career. While Lindo Jong tells the...
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