In American Society

Topics: Short story, Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Fiction, Cultural assimilation / Pages: 3 (675 words) / Published: Oct 9th, 2013
For many, immigrants coming to America can be seen as a once-in-a-lifetime- opportunity. Assimilation is difficult for the reason that it requires an individual to gradually change and become accustom to the culture that is different from his or her own. “In American Society” By Gish Jen, the author allows the reader to follow a character named Ralph and watch him struggle to assimilate with American society.
Ralph, the father of two decided to open a restaurant to provide a future for his daughters. He saw it as an opportunity to pay for his daughter’s college tuition and allow them to succeed in America. What you realize is, Ralph struggled to hold on to his old world ways that didn 't work in America and feels defeated. Ralph’s conflict in life is learning how to not always be in control and accept cultural differences. His wife understands his views and states, “Your father doesn’t believe in joining the American society… He wants to have his own society” (Jen 724). You see a change in Ralph when his workers choose to quit their job. Ralph then sees himself not living the dream he chooses to live.
I think it is important to break the story into part one and part two, because it shows the differences of Ralph’s personality. In the part one, Ralph almost sees himself as a ruler that is in control of his fate. Eventually, the worst happened; two of his prized workers left the restaurant to avoid deportation. Part two, allows the reader to see Ralph outside of the restaurant and show how his family adjusted to new cultural values he isn’t able to. Towards the end of part two, Ralph is humiliated and comes to conclusion that he will never fit in. He realizes this when his daughters are swimming and says, “You girls are good swimmers. Not like me” (Jen 734). Unlike Ralph, his family allowed America to be their new home. They understood that in order to assimilate they needed to accept cultural differences.
Moon Orchid of “The Woman Warrior” written

Cited: Dillard, Annie, and Cort Conley. Modern American Memoirs. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1995. Web. . Martin, Wendy, and Cecelia Tichi. "In the American Society." Best of Times, Worst of Times: Contemporary American Short Stories from the New Gilded Age. New York: New York UP, 2011. 723-34. Print.

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