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Out of Many, One

Topics: Immigration to the United States, United States / Pages: 5 (1063 words) / Published: Dec 16th, 2011
Out Of Many, One

“Two Ways to Belong in America” published in the New York Times in 1996, written by Bharati Mukherjeee is her personal experience about how she decided on becoming an American citizen and her sister Mira’s decision to keep her Indian citizenship, and live as legal resident is the USA. This story was written to address various changes in immigration laws during that time when the American government decided to restrain legal residents living in the United States from some rights. In this story, two Indian born sisters living in the United States discuss opposites opinions about of the meaning to be part and to belong to America one as citizen, and the other as legal resident. Mukherjee became an American citizen, gave up her Indian citizenship, and completely integrated into the American culture. It is her thesis in this story. On the other hand, her sister Mira decided to live here as a legal resident, keep her Indian tradition and citizenship because she wants to return to India when she retires. In addition to that, Mira wants people with her immigration status to have the right to enjoy other benefits reserved just for Americans citizens. Both sisters believe that they belong to America, and through the story, they will use the devices of comparison, contrasting, and use sarcasm to explain their point of views. As a legal immigrant living in the United States, and on the path to become an American citizen, I support Mukherjee’s arguments about this matter because people who immigrated to the United States must respect this nation by embracing its culture and acquiring its citizenship. Despite the fact that some people moved to the United States voluntary or for whatever reason, this country embraced us, and in return, we must to recognized it. The best way to show our gratitude and to formalize this ‘relationship’ is by becoming one of them and assimilates into their culture. The success of the American nation is a consequence of the deliberated patriotic assimilation from people all over the world that live here and become citizen. They become “E PLURIBUS UNUN” (Latin for Out of many, one) written in capital letter in the Seal of the United States to remind that everybody that moved here have to become one for the success of this nation. Mukherjee points to the main difference about her and Mira when she emphasizes, “I am an American and she is not. I am moved that thousands of long-term residents are finally taking the oath of citizenship. She is not”(221). This observation shows Mukherjee’s enthusiasm and security about her decision, and her discontentment with Mira’s decision to keep the Indian citizenship. The tone that Muhkerjee uses implies that she conceives Mira as an intruder because she decided to live as an expatriate. Mukherjee full assimilation, integration, and naturalization in this country entitles her to argue with authority because she is talking as an insider, and not like an outsider as her sister is. It sounds like she is trying to say that ‘it is my home, not yours; and here you must accept our rules’. Therefore, Mira must to accept all the rules that applied to non-citizens because she chooses this position inside the America society. Mira uses a weak counterargument in order to convince Mukherjee that she deserves to join benefits that are exclusive for citizens when she said, “ I’ve obeyed all the rules, I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve love my work, I love my students, I love the friends I’ve made” (223). Through this statement she is suggesting that her decisions are more important that the needs or interests of the country because she did something ‘exceptional’. Her argument lacks of coherent grounds because what she did or does is the common behavior for rational people living in the America society. In addition, Mira’s argument is a fallacy for the reason that we have a lot of legal and illegal immigrants in this country that did and do more than her, and many of them do not have the legal right to join any benefit that is for citizens because of their good conduct. She still alienated in her word and wants that the laws and regulations concerning about immigrant rights fit into her life’s plan. While Mukherjee comments plausible arguments, Mira insists that she is victimized by the United States insisting that she was used by the American system because it “…manipulated and discarded…” (223) her. She also declares that “If America wants to play the manipulative game, I’ll play it too…”(223). Actually, what she is claiming is not true. By my own personal example as a green card holder, the United States Immigration Services makes it clear to people that received permanent residency that our rights are subject to changes in the immigration laws and regulations. Mukherjee understood this and made the right choice in becoming a citizen. In her words, “I need to feel part of a community I have adopted… to put my roots down, to vote and make the difference that I can”(224). This position into the American society gives her the privilege to have more rights that the non-citizens. Mira decided to live in this country as an expatriate; consequently, she must to accept the laws and regulations that applied to her immigration status. What she passed through is not retaliation, but the consequences of her free choice. The way that Mira presents the sense of belonging in America lacks valid arguments because it is not based in the idea of belonging that American’s believe; i.e.’ “out of many, one”. The comparisons, contrasting, tone, fluency, and logic arguments that Mukherjee presents proves that the best way to belong to America is by becoming a citizen because allows the person to enjoy all the benefits from his or her status; and to try to change what she or he does not agree with.

Works Cited

Mukherjee, Bharati. “Two Ways to Belong in America.” 75 Readings Plus. Ed. Santi Buscemi and Charlotte Smith. New York: Mc Graw Hill, 2010. 221-224
Thomson, Charles. (n.d.) E PLURIBUS UNUM – Origin and Meaning 
of the Motto Carried by the American Eagle. Retrieved in 2010, from

Cited: Mukherjee, Bharati. “Two Ways to Belong in America.” 75 Readings Plus. Ed. Santi Buscemi and Charlotte Smith. New York: Mc Graw Hill, 2010. 221-224 Thomson, Charles. (n.d.) E PLURIBUS UNUM – Origin and Meaning of the Motto Carried by the American Eagle. Retrieved in 2010, from

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