Unpolished Gem Analysis

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Alice Pung addresses the idea of multiculturalism in her novel ‘Unpolished Gem’. Two of the themes in this novel where she portrays her culture are through personal identity and the impact of the past. ‘Unpolished Gem’ is the story of Alice Pung and her Chinese-Cambodian family as they migrate to Melbourne to pursue the “Australian Dream”. Alice experiences Melbourne life through school while her mother becomes an outworking jeweler and her father opens an electrical appliance franchise. Alice moves between the family with its Chinese-Cambodian values and her Australian school in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray. The cultures clash and Alice is torn between her double life of home and school. ‘Unpolished Gem’ is a story told in a passionate,…show more content…
In Alice’s case, her characteristics and values have been drastically influenced by what her family has been through in the past. An example of the influence of past lives on the behaviors of family members is the relationship between Alice’s mother and her grandmother. There is great conflict between the two of them during Alice’s childhood because her grandmother has such high expectations of Alice’s mother that she finds difficult to fulfill. Alice’s grandmother is an old fashioned Chinese woman, who believes that the wife of the house must bring honor to her family by perfecting all domestic duties. Juggling four children, cooking, cleaning and adjusting to a new society puts pressure on Alice’s mother. Since both mother and grandmother are such strong personalities, arguments between the two of them are not uncommon. They both attempt to entice information about one another out of young, unsuspecting Alice, so that they have something to use against each other during future conflicts. Alice describes their ways of deceit as, “Constantly sighing and lying and dying – that is what being a Chinese woman means, and I want nothing to do with it.” (-Part 1, page

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