Americanization During the Late 19th Century Essay

Americanization During the Late 19th Century Essay.

Between 1880 and 1930, despite heavy restrictions on immigration, millions of people from Eastern and Southern Europe emigrated to the United States. As they settled into the urban cities, native-born and second-generation American citizens saw these immigrants and their foreign values and behaviors as a threat and thus sought to “Americanize” and assimilate them into the mainstream American society. However, Americanization in the eyes of the native-born was different from how immigrants understood Americanization. There were formal institutions for learning English and the American government system but the new immigrants learned just as much about the American way of life on the factory floor from their co-workers, on the streets from gangs, and at radical political party rallies from the Socialist recruiters.

The three major factors in the Americanization process were the influence of Irish American culture, the working class culture, and the “support” for a melting pot society.

The Irish were unavoidable in the urban cities of the Northeast and Midwest. By 1920, ninety percent of the urban population was Irish and they were dispersed throughout the inner city and the city limits (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 4).

If a new immigrant moved to New York or Chicago, their neighbors were most likely Irish. For many new immigrants, whose lives remained within the city limits where there was work, the Irish people were American people and if they were to learn the American way of life, it was the Irish and their way of life that they observed (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 4). Irish American women played a vital role in the process of Americanization as public school teachers, as labor organizers and social reform activists, as marriage partners with men from various ethnic backgrounds, and as spouses and mothers within the Irish American community helping to produce notions of citizenship (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 6).

Irish street gangs also helped Americanize the immigrants; specifically, they taught them the importance of racial boundaries. Unlike some street gangs which are mostly defensive (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 8), Irish gangs went out looking for fights, even if it meant fighting amongst themselves (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 9). As the first immigrant group to settle in American cities, they managed to gain control of much of the residential space and move slightly up the social hierarchy where they were factory foremen and store clerks. They resented any incursion by other ethnic groups for fear that their bosses would give job preferences to foreigners willing to work for little money (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 9). There was also a fear of interracial marriage and romances and a general sense of entitlement to an entire neighborhood (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 9). So, they created ethnic spaces that persisted for decades and were validated by adults.

The other immigrants as well as African-American migrants learned and imitated this exclusive attitude and formed street gangs themselves. Certain streets like Wentworth Avenue in Chicago remained a site for racial conflict long after the Race Riot of 1919 (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 8). The obsession with race and racism became a part of the American identity. The Irish also tried to Americanize the Catholic Church but this Americanization was very different from the Anglo-American nativist Americanization. With the exception of the Jews, most if not all of the new immigrants were Catholic (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 4) like the Irish but their ideologies varied greatly. Most of the new immigrants considered the “Americanization” of the Catholic Church more like “Hibernicization” instead since the Irish wanted the immigrants to adhere to Irish Catholic ideologies (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 19).

The Irish saw the festas, folk festivals dedicated to a community’s patron saint and central to a peasant’s religious life, as barbaric (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 21). Some of the new immigrants did not go to church every Sunday or contribute towards the collection box every Sunday. In contrast, the conservative Irish were well-known for their reverence. They would attend Mass at least weekly and one would notice that in the Irish enclaves there was a church every three or four streets (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 21). Some Italian enclaves did not have a church at all and some Italians called “priest eaters” were even hostile towards Catholic bishops (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 20), considering their religion as distinct from the institutional church (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 21). Americans, Protestants, and Catholics came to regard the Italians as little better than pagans and idolaters (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 22) and great effort was made to stamp out Italian free thought.

As far as the native-born Irishmen were concerned, in order to be a good American, one needed to be a devout Irish Catholic. Even though priests and nuns followed their congregation from the Old World and built ethnically based religious schools, hospitals, and other social institutions, the people holding authority over these places were usually Irish (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 17). This was not always a bad thing though since the Irish leaders often supported progressive positions on welfare policies such as pensions, public housing, social insurance, the right to organize, and many other social issues that their Eastern and Southern European followers were interested in (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 25). Irish Catholic nuns also played a vital role in Americanizing more recent immigrant children in the parochial schools (“The Irish and the ‘Americanization’” 19). Supervisors and foremen were constantly teaching immigrant laborers how things worked in American factories, specifically who was in charge, to do what they were told, and to keep working (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1004).

Many companies either sponsored their own English instruction and citizenship classes or worked in conjunction with the YMCA and other agencies to put on evening or plant classes (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1003). Steel mills, meat packers, and textile plants established acculturation programs similar to Henry Ford’s Five Dollar Day plan where case workers would investigate the immigrant’s work record and his home life to see if he qualified for the five dollar incentive pay. Ford argued that these men must be taught American ways, learn to speak English, and the right way to live (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1003). He even went so far as to fire nine hundred Greek and Russian workers who missed work because they celebrated Orthodox Christmas, which took place thirteen days after December 25th, to show that immigrant laborers must observe American holidays (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1003).

The earlier generation of immigrants, who had lived in the United States for less than a decade, had developed ways to cope with these rigors of wage labor and had years of urban and industrial experience. The new immigrants along with Black and Mexican migrant workers also learned to coexist and learn from these “old” immigrants. Racism did occur since these old immigrants were comprised of British, German, Scandinavians, English-speaking Canadians, and Irish laborers. However, these people understood the value of interethnic cooperation and thus a new working class culture was born. Many of the ideas, organizations, and institutions commonly associated with the working class culture today developed out of Old World values and experiences but applied to America’s industrial setting (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 999-1000).

There was a high advocacy for trade unionism and Socialism which praised the laborer. Reading material that the immigrants had access to preached the values of atheism, health foods, popular science, temperance, etc (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1006). Many educated and politically active immigrant laborers from various ethnic backgrounds and joined the Socialist Labor party and the Communist party. They shared a vision of a new and better world where laborers could have access to the kind of wealth that their bosses had (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1007). Activists encouraged immigrants to practice their Constitutional right of free speech and defend themselves, to speak out against long work days, unfair foremen, and poor working conditions which were “against the Constitution” (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1009).

How were they supposed to raise their children as good “American” children with “American” standards of living without higher wages, shorter work days, and better working conditions (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1009)? When unions organized, all racial, religious, and cultural barriers went away. As far as they were concerned, class struggle was more important than race struggle (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1006). The labor union was the only place the Slavs, Lithuanians, Germans, and Irish mixed together well until mixing along other lines eventually came into play (“Americanization from the Bottom Up” 1010). This certainly was not the kind of Americanization that employers and the native-born citizens had in mind but it was how many new immigrants discovered America. The social construction of whiteness was also vital in the Americanization process. The new immigrants had status as “in-between” people, better than the Asians and Blacks but also below “white” people (“Inbetween Peoples”, 4).

The immigrant working class was referred to as “temporary Negroes” and the Greek Americans in the Midwest would be perceived as Mexican, mulatto, Puerto Rican, or Arab (“Inbetween Peoples”, 8). The Italians were called the “Chinese of Europe” and at the same time as “black as the blackest negro in existence” (“Inbetween Peoples”, 8-9). It was not just informal racism from native-born citizens that the immigrants faced; they also had to contend with the institutionalized racism. There was especially great fear over interracial relationships despite their infrequency. An immigrant woman could be prosecuted for race-mixing and a native-born woman could lose her citizenship if either became involved with immigrant men categorized as non-white (“Inbetween Peoples”, 5).

U.S. naturalization laws focused heavily on race, consistently preventing any non-whites from gaining citizenship (“Inbetween Peoples”, 9). European immigrants would be allowed into the country being perceived as white and would usually be granted their whiteness in naturalization cases in the courthouses only to have their racial status and their fitness for citizenship constantly questioned by the public (“Inbetween Peoples”, 10) Thus, an Americanization effort was mounted where the mixing of the Eastern and Southeastern European races and the “white” English-speaking race of Americans would make the nation stronger as a whole. Black, Asian, and Mexican migrants were consistently excluded from this process since they were consistently perceived as non-white and therefore unfit for citizenship (“Inbetween Peoples”, 10).

Nonetheless, there was harsh opposition from both Conservative and Progressive Americans who believed in Eugenics and were afraid that the “inferior races” would ruin the American race. They believed that the violence and brutality associated with Italian stereotypes could be inherited genetically and would cause a moral deterioration of the country (“Inbetween Peoples”, 12). Some supporters of the melting pot did not want the English-speaking races overrun with un-American Slavic and Southern-European biology as if language and culture were also things that could be inherited genetically (“Inbetween Peoples”, 12). Also, having a pale skin color and the ability to speak English did not always ensure that one could become white. For example, in the South, an American would not engage in agricultural, manual labor, that was work for the Negroes.

Naturally, seeing that the Italians were willing to do this work, U.S. Southerners concluded that Italians were un-American and lacked dignity (“Inbetween Peoples”, 32). During World War I, the status of recent immigrants as Americans especially came under scrutiny because the native-born citizens wanted to know whether the immigrants’ political loyalty lied with the United States or their mother country. In order to be one hundred percent white and one hundred percent American, immigrants had to completely abandon all sense of national pride and identify completely with the United States. A large part of the immigrant population did so willingly while some immigrants like the Jews and Italians chose to identify with nonwhites with whom they often shared their lives with.

In general, the new immigrants chose not to talk about race whenever possible and instead focused on nationality and loyalty to American ideals (“Inbetween Peoples”, 31). Americanization for the new immigrants meant various things depending on where in the U.S. they lived and who they encountered. It was a lifelong process that involved daily observation and learning new ideas from a wide variety of sources such as the vaudeville house, the saloon, the workplace, and the street corner. Americanization was just as much about establishing race and class divisions as it was about integrating the Eastern and Southern European immigrant groups with the Northern Europeans. It was usually a coercive process since their lives and their jobs were dependent upon them becoming American.

Americanization During the Late 19th Century Essay

Supporting Immigration Essay

Supporting Immigration Essay.

Our Nation is surrounded by immigrants, people of different nationalities, backgrounds, cultures and languages who add diversity and richness to our lives. I support immigration because it reminds us that we are a country of immigrants and we were once strangers in this land as well. In reality everyone is an immigrant to this country except the Native Indians, so we should all give a chance to the majority of people who want to travel here for just one simple reason, a better life.

I actually think that our country would benefit from a sizeable amount of good hard working immigrants. Like Rupert Murdoch says “As an immigrant, I chose to live in America because it is one of the freest and most vibrant nations in the world and as an immigrant, I feel an obligation to speak up for immigration policies that will keep America the most economically robust, creative and freedom-loving nation in the world”.

People argue how the foreign-born population in the United States tripled in the past four decades and currently totals about 37 million or 12 percent of the population today.

However the immigrant’s percentage of the total U.S population is below the nation’s historic highest recorded data. Correspondingly, the United States is less a nation of immigrants now than a century ago, when nearly 15 percent of the population was foreign born. Other countries have proportionately larger immigrant populations. For instance, places like Canada have a 17 percent population of foreign born, Australia running in first place with 24 percent.

Studies found that Immigrants and U.S. workers do not generally compete for the same jobs. Their skills and educational levels at the lower job levels are different than those workers who are born in America. Immigrants usually choose different occupations than the average American worker because that is the work that is available to them. These are jobs that U.S born workers won’t take because they find those types of work unappealing. Like jobs that include dishwashing in restaurants, farm work, landscaping work, care giving, and low- level construction work. Showing that immigrants do not displace American workers, but instead supply labor that is very much needed and help the American way of life.

To sum up, immigrants are not only needed for the low level jobs that Americans refuse to work in, but also the high level jobs. Those immigrants such as the computer experts and scientists have been recruited by companies that need their help because they cannot find U.S workers to do the job. When in reality these high level immigrant workers actually provide investment since they are valuable in fields that rely on high technology. Having a positive effect on the U.S economy and benefitting our country because of their creativity and willingness to work hard.

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Supporting Immigration Essay

Hong Kong Housing Problems Essay

Hong Kong Housing Problems Essay.

Nowadays , Housing Problem is very serious in Hong Kong .

Many people such as the elderly and the fresh graduates , most of them can’t have the flats for living and some need to live in the subdivided units . Our chief executive , Mr. CY Leung just announced his first policy address , in the housing aspects , he suggested that building more flats for the citizens . However , I think it’s only a long term solutions , the flats will be finished in 2018 , but the housing problem is a very urgent needs for the most citizens in Hong Kong .

These are the two main causes that lead to the housing problem in Hong Kong .The first causes of the housing problem is the rate of population growth increases, it lead to the rate of housing also increase . Also , the migrants from China or the entry of illegal immigrants further increased the population. And the next cause is high land rent. The price of the flats will increase and it’s difficult for the grassroot people to buy the flats .

And I think building more flats may cannot solve the problem in short

term . I suggest while building more flats , the government can set up a group of people to have a assessment of the subdivided units . It’s to avoid the illegal structures in the subdivided units , and try their best to give better living environment for the grassroot people to live until the new flat are built . Also , government can have some alterations on the abandoned buildings such as abandoned schools , maybe alternate them into living flats for short term . Some people can live in them until the new flats are built .

Hong Kong Housing Problems Essay

Did the 1920s Roar? Essay

Did the 1920s Roar? Essay.

When people think of the 1920’s they think of a time of prosperity. Although due to Canadians not experiencing greater levels of equality the 1920’s did not in fact roar. The injustice felt by the Native people was a direct result of inequality and discrimination by the Canadian government. According to ‘A Day at Indian Residential Schools In Canada’ living in these Residential schools was a complete nightmare. Only 2 hours of education, hard labor, malnutrition and a strapping if you had done something wrong.

As well the Canadian government “attempted to ‘protect’ Native peoples from White society, but intended to assimilate them at the same time” (Fielding, Evans 98). The short/long term effects were devastating, families were broken, children were isolated and cultures were divided.

This shows how Native peoples were treated unjust, just by sending them to reserves in the first place to be assimilated and protect by White society. Secondly although women were gaining equality and they were rebelling in a way they were still not deemed equal to men.

A type of newfound woman was called the ‘Flapper’, they bobbed their hair, shower more skin, smoked and drank as well they even drove cars and kept their jobs they took from men when the war ended. According to Agnes Mcphail, “A woman’s place is anywhere she wants to be” (Bardswich and Fryer 16-17). Agnes was the first female member of the Canadian House of Commons, and she did gain some levels of independence for woman but not all women. Lastly immigrants coming to Canada for a better life only received worse treatment than before including many immigrants from Europe and Asia.

Acts such as the Chinese Immigration Act prohibited all Chinese immigrants except diplomats, students, children of Canadians, and an investor class. According to ‘The Immigrant Experience’ fewer than 800 South Asians entered Canada during the 1920s (Fine-Meyer 14-17). Although Africans, and eastern/southern Europeans were un-preferred as well it wasn’t to the extent in which they had received an Immigration Act. The 1920s clearly did not roar in the equality side of things, as not all woman were considered persons, native peoples were isolated and immigrants hadn’t received the warm welcome they very much deserved.


Bardswich, Miriam, and Sandra Fryer. Labour and Social Reform. Oakville: Rubicon Education Inc., 2002. Print.

Fine-Meyer, Rose. The Immigrant Experience. Oakville: Rubicon Education Inc., 2003. Print.

“A Day at Indian Residential Schools in Canada.” 2005. DVD.

Fielding, John, and Rosemary Evans. Canada: Our Century, Our Story. Scarborough: Nelson Thomson Learning, 2001. Print.

Did the 1920s Roar? Essay

Foreign Worker Essay

Foreign Worker Essay.

The story could be about a heartless employer pouring boiling water on an Indonesian maid or labour contractors exploiting a Bangladeshi worker. Or it could be a Minister stating that he received an appeal from the MNCs for the Government to relax its policy on the importation of foreign labour. There just seems to be no shortage of news about this little understood segment of our Malaysian economy.

We should not be surprised at the increasing frequency of snippets of news on foreign labour.

That’s because foreign workers have steadily increased in number over the past two decades so that today they are a key part of the economy. However, for various reasons, the Government and the employers – both small and big – have tended to down play the importance of foreign labour in the country’s development.

Just recently, I was reading again through the Ninth Malaysia Plan. This document is the Government’s blueprint for national development for the period 2006-2010.

There is very little mention or analysis of ‘foreign labour’ in this economic bible of the Government. A quick check of the index shows only two references in a volume of almost 560 pages. One is a statement that foreigners with work permits increased to 1.7 million in 2005, with the manufacturing sector as the largest employer accounting for 31%. (9th Malaysia Plan, p.240)

Given our estimated national workforce was about 10.9 million in that year, this means that officially sanctioned foreign workers accounted for 15% of the total workforce, according to the official statistics. They come from over 15 countries with the largest number from Indonesia (1.2 million as of 2006). Other sending countries include India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Timor Leste and the Philippines.

But can the official statistics be believed?

Actual number of foreign workers

In fact the foreign component of the Malaysian workforce is a lot larger – in fact, very, very much larger. According to government’s own estimates, there is an equivalent number of unregistered or undocumented migrant labour in the country.

Another estimate was provided by Syed Shahir, president of the MTUC when he spoke at an international meeting on migrant workers. [Speech at MTUC/ILO Follow Up Workshop on Migrant Workers in Malaysia, December, 4-6 2006.]

His estimate is supported by the fact that official entry-exit immigration records in 2004 showed that there were 5,852,997 persons who overstayed after entering the country. This figure – if true today – means that four in every 10 visitors to the country is overstaying, with a very large proportion probably entering the informal labour market.

Hence a realistic estimate of the number of foreign workers in the country would be anywhere between 3.5 and over 7 million. If the higher number is taken into account, it means that a staggering two in every three workers in the country could be a foreign worker.

Policy towards foreign labour

So what should our policy be towards foreign labour? According to the Ninth Malaysia Plan, “the number of foreign workers will be reduced gradually to provide greater employment opportunities to local workers and to reduce administrative costs as well as the outflow of foreign exchange.???

The Plan, however, provides no strategy on how this is to be achieved. All it suggests is that “local labour, particularly graduates, will have to change their mindset so as not to be too choosy in selecting occupations.??? (p.250). In other words, the Government really has no idea on how to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign labour. Hence it has opted for a hands-off policy for fear of disrupting the lifeblood of our economy.

In fact the Government is too optimistic – if not unrealistic – about the future scenario of a hoped-for decline in the number of foreign workers in the country.

Like it or not, all Malaysians will have to accept some simple facts of life in our economy. And one of the key facts is that Malaysia cannot function without the millions of foreign workers that are with us now. The other is that the presence of foreign workers is likely to grow in importance rather than diminish in the foreseeable future.

Malaysia is not the only country where foreign workers have come to play a key role. This is a trend in rich or developed countries all over the world including the US, the EU countries, Japan and the Gulf states. Closer to home, Singapore is a prime example of an economy which is also dependent on foreign labour – in this case including Malaysian labour! In all these countries, prosperous and growing economies have attracted an influx of foreign labour especially for the dirty jobs that the local people shun.

The quicker Malaysians learn to accept that foreign workers are here to stay – in the short term and long run – the easier it will be to come up with a realistic plan on the way forward for our economy and plural society.

Balancing foreign and local workers interests

For any country to fully benefit from foreign labour, there must be several complementary policies. One is to recognize that not all foreign labour is or should be low skilled. This is recognized by some countries which have clear cut policies to attract and retain high skilled foreign labour, including through liberal migration policies.

In our case, it is critical that Malaysian businesses should be allowed to draw on foreign talent from the regional and global pools. This will enable our economy to stay competitive, enable these companies to survive and in the process create more and better jobs for Malaysians.

In some Western countries, foreign students studying in those countries have formed an important part of talent when they stayed back to either become citizens or to work there. Malaysia similarly should take advantage of the large number of foreign students coming to Malaysia to study by providing them with an opportunity to make this country their home. What we should be looking for are skills and commitment for the long term – irrespective of the country of origin.

Whilst seeking a reasonable number of foreign workers to add diversity and dynamism to our workforce and to enable us to reach global markets more effectively, we should not forget the present generation of foreign workers with us now.

If we curtail the use of these lower skilled foreign workers, our manufacturing and plantation industries will lose critical mass and their competitive edge, resulting in the closure or stagnation of many enterprises and the loss of jobs for Malaysians eventually.

The second is the need to re-skill Malaysian for newer jobs as the economy is being transformed. In fact, some adjustment has already taken place amongst Malaysian workers, though not enough. There is no doubt that the inflow of low-cost foreign workers into our construction, agricultural, manufacturing and service industries has acted as an incentive for some Malaysians to upgrade themselves to higher level and better paying jobs as these lower paid jobs get filled up by foreigners.

No study has been done to establish whether the number of Malaysian workers who have been able to upgrade themselves and benefitted from the influx of cheaper labour is larger or smaller than those that have been displaced or marginalized by foreign labour. But the number of Malaysians benefitting is probably not very large.

Whatever the past impact of foreign labour taking over low-cost jobs formerly held by Malaysians, it is necessary that in the future, there should be stronger policies aimed at skill upgrading and retraining of workers. Such retraining and the re-designing of lower end jobs with commensurate wage increases will help Malaysians look more closely at jobs that they may once have avoided and help to lessen our over-dependence on foreign labour.

Importance of educational reform

At the same time, the education system needs to be urgently reformed to ensure a upgrading of the skill sets of our younger generation. This upgrading has to be a continuous exercise to equip the young to take on higher value added, hi-tech and capital intensive work.

Otherwise, we will be burdened with a poorly educated younger generation that may not even be able to compete with foreign labour for the lower end jobs.

In this respect, the recent flip-flop decision on the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English has not helped in charting a clear and consistent policy that can strengthen the ability of our young children to be competitive with the many other countries fighting for better jobs in the globalized market.

Rights of foreign workers

The socio-economic impact and consequences arising from foreign labour can be addressed by greater and more open policy dialogue involving the key stakeholders such as Government, local employers, MNCs, workers, NGOs and independent policy analysts. This would help foster harmonious and equitable working and industrial relations based on economic facts and social justice – a context which is largely missing or in short supply.

Finally, all Malaysians must learn to respect the rights of foreign workers and accord to them the same rights that they demand for themselves.

Mistreatment of foreign workers; exploitation by labour agents and contractors; denial of equal access to benefits and protection guaranteed to Malaysian workers; harassment and persecution by government-sanctioned vigilante organizations such as Rela (there was a notorious ‘Catch a illegal migrant and get paid for it’ campaign which ran in 2005 and 2006 that attracted much international criticism) – these actions are contrary to accepted norms of human decency and have rightly given Malaysians and Malaysia a bad name.

Foreign Worker Essay

Picture Bride by Yoshiko Uchida Essay

Picture Bride by Yoshiko Uchida Essay.

1. What kind of American society does Hana find upon arrival? How does she learn about it, and how does this affect her? How does this reality compare to Hana’s pre-arrival notions of America? How have these differences and similarities affected her family? (2 points)

Upon arrival to America, Hana has positive thoughts about American society. She had feared a future that would reflect the dullness of her present life in her village. Her mother doesn’t want her to become a teacher and her sister’s husband doesn’t think much of her just because she is a woman.

In America, she dreamed of a prosperous life where she will be able to be the woman that she wants to become.

However, when she reached America, she is harbored by discrimination and anti-Japanese sentiments among the Whites. The notion that she will be totally free escaped her.
One by one, Hana learned about the discrimination directed towards Japanese immigrants. On her first day in America, her future husband Taro introduced her to his friends and she learned their stories with visual clarity as she was situated to their homes, and their community.

She was shocked to learn that they have lowly jobs as houseboys, painters, maidservants, construction workers, and manual laborers. Professionals face difficulty in practicing their profession because they are not endorsed by the Americans. Hana faced these realities that were inadvertently concealed from her when she was still in Japan. Instead of punishing herself for the seemingly wrong decision of coming to America, Hana is determined to continue on with her new life.

As Hana sees the perceived notion of a prosperous life versus the reality that confronts her; she has been adaptable, strong and unrelenting. She decided to honor the agreed marriage even if she was not totally convinced of it for the good of both Taro’s family and her own. In doing so, she has shown determination, courage and compassion for both Taro and her family. She chose Taro even if she is developing a feeling for his friend, Yamaka. While this can be seen as a form of a Japanese woman’s submissiveness, it was clearly Hana’s own choice as determined by her judgment.

2. How is discrimination experienced by Hana, Taro, and the other characters? How is it dealt with? What alternatives did they create to overcome those barriers? (3 points)

Taro and his male friends are discriminated against by the Americans. Taro’s shop is only visited by fellow Japanese. Whites don’t buy from him because they have their own grocer. In such circumstance, Taro cannot expand his business into a community grocer that sells everything they need. His own business is limited by a fixed demographic of Japanese customers.

Japanese immigrants have limited job opportunities. This has been reinforced through laws and sanctions against them. Most of Taro’s friends are only accepted in manual labors and domestic jobs. The men who are not used to do household chores adapted to the situation because it is their only means of survival. The types of work that are given to them is in conflict with the gender roles in a Japanese society. They disregard their pride for the benefit of their family.

As a doctor, Dr. Takeda’s patients are all Japanese. He has immersed himself in helping his fellowmen and he made it his mission to go to them. He reached out to farmers who face open discrimination through fear of competition in their produce.

Young male Japanese who study always fall behind their class even if they are bright because of the limits of language. Some of them quit early and resign themselves in doing domestic jobs. While some of them would find this degrading, for many, it shows a resolute character who has the ability to choose from the limited means of survival afforded to them.

In the bus scene where Hana carries her favorite dish and nobody dared sat beside her because of its stinking smell, the pain of conforming to an entirely different culture extols upon her and she felt embarrassed and humiliated. For her, a place where you suppress a basic desire like enjoying your favorite dish is such a lame,unfair and unlivable place.

As a group, they begun their assimilation to the community through creation of a religious group. They learned to help each other in times of need. Most husbands cannot shoulder the financial means to support their family. These made a wife’s financial contribution important to their society. Women learned to do things that they don’t usually do as restricted in Japanese society like deciding on their family’s welfare. Wives are not entirely submissive to their husbands. Their acquired intrepidity and relentlessness to participate in the planning of the future of their families are not encouraged but husbands have learned to adapt to these changes. They accept such circumstances with blind submission.

However, at the beginning of the novel, Hana also felt discriminated against not just by Americans but by her fellow Japanese. While Taro and others have successfully immersed themselves into American culture through studying English and creating a Christian community, Hana struggles between hiding her Japanese-ness so she cannot feel embarrassed to Taro’s friends for keeping her own culture (which for some of them will eventually be lost each time they conform) and to the Americans who think lowly of them.

3. How does the “assimilation process” change from Hana’s generation to Mary’s? (3 points)

It was an unspoken ideal for Japanese immigrants, whether issei or nisei to be fully integrated and accepted into American society. In Hana’s generation, assimilation is through conforming to laws, rules, and sanctions imposed on them. They need to abide by the law and live their life in quiet peace, even consenting on the whims of their neighbors. They are conscious of their own culture and of what practice offends Americans that they should avoid .

However, in Mary’s generation this had changed because their distinction between what constituents Japanese culture and American culture is blurred. An example is their preference in the use of language. Mary communicates to Taro because he speaks English well in contrast to Hana who needs Japanese language translation for her to fully grasp what Mary wants to say. In fact, some of them had fully embraced being an American and had lost their Japanese culture.

In the time frame covered in the novel, Hana’s generation’s assimilation processes cannot bring them to fully integrate into American Society. During their time, laws were imposed preventing them to enjoy the benefits of citizenship. Mary’s generation are American citizens. While they also experience discrimination, they have a choice whether to submit to the demands of their citizenship or their obligation to their parents.

4. What conditions bring Mary to the particular choices she makes as a young adult? What are the costs/benefits of her choices? (2.5 points)

Mary had been frustrated of the life that she’d been living as reinforced by a naive knowledge of the world. She’s been drifting away from the love of her parents while moving closer to her friends or the man that she dates. There is a friction between Mary and Hana that both can’t reach out to one another. When Mary decides to become a doctor, Hana was apprehensive because Mary’s personality as revealed to her cannot sustain such arduous and long study. She has often demonstrated her interest in a project only when her spirits are high and would later abandon an undertaking when her spirits are down. Hana sees that she is not as strong as she appears to be before Taro. In Hana’s eyes, these revelations are the silent cause of the seeming distance in their relationship.

On the other hand, Mary seems to be bothered by the many differences they have. She no longer identifies herself as part of their community as shown in her annoyance in attending the Sunday mass. She has attained independence and self-will different from the characteristics of a submissive Japanese woman. Although Hana is herself strong-willed and determined, Mary is free to choose between the two cultures. Her marriage to an American man is her easy escape of the kind of prosecution her parents experience while being Japanese.

Her elopement is symbolic of her own choice between America and Japan. Her act can be likened to abandonment of one’s own ancestry. Her actions can also be seen as the same force that drove Hana to leave Japan and be Taro’s picture bride; as she thinks more of herself and disregarding what her actions might mean to her family. The only main difference is that in Hana’s case, her mother consented to her marriage while Hana and Taro resented Mary’s decision.

When the war broke, having an American husband who will take care of her prevented Mary from experiencing the torment of her parents living in an internment camp. She has escaped their faith and she is now living on her own with a kind of freedom achieved through escaping a bondage set by the constraints of culture. At first, Mary’s actions cost her the love of her parents, but as parents, Hana and Taro’s love for her transcends all wrongdoing. They find in their hearts love to forgive her. As these actions are also symbolic of the characters’ love for both America and Japan, it shows that their decisions are responses to the societies’ treatment towards them. And in such times, they are victims of the ideological war on racism and discrimination of the time.

5. How do you understand the two fatal “accidents” (Henry and Taro shot to death) in the context of race relations? What were the consequences inside and outside their families? (2.5 points)

In the fatal “accidents”, both Taro and Henry are victims of a useless war. The perpetrators have the upper hand; hence the ones who shot the gun. The characteristic of a discriminating group is that it always claims superiority over the other who’s discriminated against. These accidents are confirmation of a superior hand of America. They govern laws that were used to proliferate discrimination.

The shooting is also affirmation of the ugly perception of Americans to Japanese Americans that extends to the whole of Asian Americans as well. The shooters’ perceptions on both Henry and Taro are heavenly influenced by the political relations between America and Japan. The bombing of Pearl Harbor is a declaration of war from Japan which a belligerent America took on. The shooting of both Henry and Taro signals a battle that was hard to withdraw. They were both innocent, conforming Japanese who just happened to be affected by such relations.

When Taro’s group at the internment camp heard about the shooting of Henry Toda, they were alarmed that such random case of killing has occurred against them. Most of them conform to American societies to prevent the same fate. However, not all Japanese internees during that time conform to authorities. Some have rebelled against their condition and were prosecuted.

Their deaths were difficult to endure for their families. It came at a time when they are facing problems and major changes in their lives. Their absences as heads of their families signal a shift from the traditional Japanese families’ context as characterized by closed boundary and divided gender roles to a more liberal family who adapts to changes in society.

6. What are the main differences and similarities between the Issei and Nissei families? What are the roles of parents and children? Which generation do you consider more successful? Why? (2 points)

As first generation, (Issei) of migrants, Hana’s generation maintained their Japanese citizenship while Mary’s generation are born into American society and are American citizens. Since Nissei are American citizens, their issei parents believe that they can be integrated in American society. While Hana’s generation was obviously discriminated against through different laws, Mary’s are not governed by such laws as Anti-Alien Land Law, Gentleman’s Agreement, etc. In a sense, Mary’s generation is more free.

In Hana’s generation, the Japanese Americans have remained exclusive in their group to live and to cope with the unfair conditions they experience. They find strength while being together and it gives them a sense of having a community they can call their own. Issei and Nisei families are both unwelcome in American society. Both are looked down by white Americans.

Both face unfair discrimination reduce to stereotypes. To cope with the discrimination, they have devised different ways to assimilate. For the Issei, most of them conform to rules and laws set upon them while the Nisei live according to American values they have acquired. In a way, they are becoming American and losing their Japanese sense without knowing it.

Issei parents’ role is to instill to their Nisei children the importance of integration to American society through education. They require their children to excel in school and be good citizens who follow rules. They dream that their children will someday become professionals who occupy important places in society. The role of children is to obey their parents with an end goal that America will someday be a friendly society for the likes of them.

More opportunities are provided for Nisei. As mentioned above, they are more free than their parents. In these situation where the society is the main antagonist, I think that the Nisei are more successful. Unlike their parents, they do not confront a choice between two citizenships. They are born Americans and they integrate into society more freely and openly.

Picture Bride by Yoshiko Uchida Essay

Cultural Identity in The Namesake Essay

Cultural Identity in The Namesake Essay.

The Namesake illustrates several elements of transition that are common to the stories of immigrant families and their children. As shown in the film, the first generation connects with their cultural identity and roots to a far greater degree and density than their children do. The second generation exists between two realities of culture including their ethnic heritage and the world they live in presently. There is a barrier between parents and first-generation American born children. Some immigrant families will not accept the fact that times are changing and they did not grow up in the same country, they have not faced the same struggles, or even began to realize how hard and much different America is than most other nations.

Their children have access to many things at their age then the parents did. For example, in America, if Gogol wants to date, then he can date. Back home in India, dating is unacceptable and it is not as easy to maintain a girlfriend in India then it is here, in America.

In this analysis of culture and identity, The Namesake will be depicted as an intellectual and an existing struggle for characters to establish their identity. In this film, adapted form a depiction of Bengali life in Western society, there are assorted scenes of emotional and relationship related issues that face the main characters. Focusing on the lives of Ashima and Ashoke in the western world including their son

Gogol, there is a clear contrast between the lifestyles and values upheld by both age groups. This not only contributes to the problems each experience in their journeys, but also the cultural identity that each establishes as their own. Each character presents significant transformation in these areas. The film The Namesake illustrates aspects of cultural identity and formation of specific personas through its storyline, character development and specific use of camera motion and light within scenes. The cultural aspects experienced by each character are visualized in a meaningful way as well as the interconnected nature of relationships between Gogol and his parents. Since there are disagreements in the way that Gogol, a second generation Bengali, lives his life in comparison to his parents, it is possible to see similarities in the way each character develops throughout the movie.

Also, the use of close up camera documentation of each character’s response and attitudes portrays the scenes most carefully and with maximum evidence for emotional development in terms of the audience’s visualization. The close up camera movement shows us how exactly the character was feeling and how their emotion changes in one scene. There are several scenes and shots from this movie that provide detail about the how each characters transformation illustrates their cultural identity. Two of these are clear portrayals of the differences faced by Gogol. In a scene showing a vacation to his Caucasian family’s home there were clear indicators of his acceptance amongst the family. The warm conversation and clearly welcoming atmosphere made his lifestyle with his partner much easier compared to his parents who weren’t extremely encouraging of the relationship. The sense of respect is shown by slower camera angles with little tension besides regular circumstantial evidence. These are well-lit scenes that show how the characters feel and the best case scenarios experienced by Gogol.

This is in simple contrast to the scenes illustrating a trip the couple makes to his family home. Instead of warm greetings his parents are unable to understand the social norms of dating as well as the cultural standards of the American life. This results in his partner exhibiting warmness and sympathy comparable to her own upbringing only to receive less than warm responses. This is because of the emotional and cultural differences that are demonstrated in terms of context and communication norms. These scenes show the difference of opinions between Gogol’s parents as well as his decision making and discreet choices that show his girlfriend how he truly felt. These slight motions were captured by camera shots that picked up on these indirect gestures. For example, when Gogol and his girlfriend were sitting on his family couch and his dad’s back was turned, Gogol quickly removed his girlfriend’s hand from his lap.

This was a small example of the secretiveness with which he wished to carry out the trip, rather than the friendly openness he experienced in her home. He did not want to flaunt his relationship, he knew his parents already felt discomfort from the idea of the two of them together. While the daytime conversations are relatively well lit, there is room for differences; there were more shadows and not as positive energy in the conversations ensuing between Gogol and his girlfriend.

Significant quotations from many assessments of the movie and book include those that describe a sense of waiting that is associated with life for the first generation immigrants. In assessing the female protagonist Ashima, the author writes, “For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy–a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what had once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated and demanding. Like

pregnancy, being a foreigner, Ashima believes, is something that elicits the same curiosity from strangers, the same combination of pity and respect (Lawson).” This is a clear explanation of the imagery presented on screen regarding Ashima’s loneliness and sense of transition. Particularly in scenes showing her first arrival in India, the adjustment to a new way of life required significant strength that rejected old beliefs in order adapt new ones. This included depictions of her by herself in the home she lived in, as well as in preparation for having a child.

The new life she had away from family and systems of support in her home country are clearly seen in these lonely moments and show how her ‘previous life had vanished, replaced by something more complicated’. The demands on her are further seen in terms of the work needed to contribute to a lifestyle comparable to those of her standards. Ultimately she was able to adjust to life in a Western society, but only as a foreigner living in a different world. This shows a feeling of singularity amongst many and justifies her experience as someone by themselves in a place of values and beliefs different to her own.

According to critics “Nair not only recreates an older Bengali era, she also conveys the deep bond between Ashoke and Ashima”. This illustrates the transition of the nature in this arranged marriage from slightly apprehensive and disconnected initially, to a growing sense of understanding and unspoken significance. This is unique to the cultural context of those with an Indian heritage and depicts the differences between culture and context within Western Society. Regardless of the images or examples of love that Gogol presents to his parents, they are justified and explain that they expect certain standards that are irreversible, though not explicitly mentioned this way. It can be difficult to visualize the harsh reactions here because of the fundamental difference in beliefs that each character has. However, it does identify impacting

and significant differences between East and West. Since this older generation demonstrates the values of a generation that are not imparted to their youth in the same way, a great deal of the character development that Gogol and his sister must take charge of is adopting their newfound ideals and values to the lifestyle the have grown from and felt comfortable with for most of their life (Idol).

According to the reviewer Chatter, Idol, ‘Just as the metaphor of the bridges in the movie, “The Namesake” is about bridging the gap. This is a definition of how the movie on a whole illustrates each characters journey to find themselves within the context and environment. These experiences are cultivated through a filtered lens of the most transformational elements of human nature such as changing cultural beliefs regarding future family members, or even just adapting to the changing views of one’s son (Idol). The film illustrates Gogol’s challenge to defend his native westernized values and beliefs in face of his parents traditional and culturally attached belief system.

This major change is an example of the bridging between cultural attitudes and opposition to new circumstances based on the dramatic nature of immigration. It also provides evidence of how Gogol, a second generation individual, had to suffer with the discrepancies in attitude that his parents were unknowingly facing in raising children in a society different from that which they came from. Ultimately the cultural identities are established firmly by both age groups through firm action and certain emotional distances that depict the changing beliefs and systems that each family member endured.

In conclusion, there are a number of elements that portray cultural identification and identity formation between the characters of Gogol, Ashoke and Ashima. These three roles

illustrate strongly the life transition of moving and starting a family in a different country. They also allow for examination of the cultural differences that can grow from life and love taking place in the United States. Despite the landscape of western ideals and communication styles, there are clear indicators of Indian values being transferred to each of these characters. For example, scenes that illustrate Ashima’s feeling of patience and waiting are accompanied by critical examinations of the under spoken nature of her relationship with Ashoke. Similarly, the differences in international environments experienced by Gogol are featured in a variety of capacities throughout the film.

Particular attention to the scenes of introduction where Gogol and his girlfriend experienced entirely different ends of the spectrum in terms of their parents’ reactions to one another. It shows perfectly that there is a cultural barrier between the two families, where his girlfriend’s family is extremely accepting, while Gogol’s parents are not. They want him to follow tradition and marry a Bengali girl and raise a family just like his own. These attitudes and emotional presentations as narrated by camera shots of the story line provide clear evidence of cultural transplanting and the way immigration can affect multiple generations.

Works Cited
Idol Chatter,. ‘‘The Namesake’: A Journey Of Self Discovery’. N. p., 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.

Lawson, Dayo,. ‘SELECTED QUOTES & PASSAGES: THE NAMESAKE BY JHUMPA LAHIRI « Dayo Lawson’. N. p., 2014. Web. 13 Dec. 2014.

Cultural Identity in The Namesake Essay