Asian American Studies About Generations

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One of the most difficult obstacles that first generation immigrants have to face is trying to adapt and assimilate when they come to the United States. The first generation immigrants are usually the ones that are more aware of their culture. However, are the parents able to past down their culture down to their children after moving to America? I argue that assimilated second generation children question their self-identity and lose sight of their culture because they want to be treated like “normal” people and fit into the mainstream. And what is “normal” is presenting and upholding oneself as a white person. In The Joy Luck Club, The Accidental Asian, and A Shortcut to the American Dream, I am going to compare and contrast the process of assimilation of the second generation Asian Americans and why they question their culture and identity. In The Joy Luck Club, Lena St. Clair is an example of a second generation Asian American, who assimilated but also aware of her culture and self-identity. She grew up in a household where her mother, Ying-Ying, does not speak any English and her father, Clifford, who does not speak any Chinese. Her family structure is different than any typical Asian American household because her parents don’t communicate with each other. The reason her mother immigrated to the United States, was because her father saved her from a tragedy that happened during the time he was at China. Ying-Ying never said or objected anything from her husband because when she was younger, she grew up with her baby sitter, Amah, telling her to “never ask, only listen” (pg. 70). Throughout Ying-Ying’s life, she never expressed herself and was quiet most of the time, even around her daughter who was the only person she was able to communicate to in the house. Ying-Ying feels like by expressing herself, her thoughts and feelings will come off as a “selfish
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