Anzia Yezierska and Jhumpa Lahiri both write intimately of the conflicted experiences of immigrants in America. Although they come from very different backgrounds, their encounters with America are quite similar. In fact, as demonstrated in the quotes above, both write of a tension many immigrant children feel between loyalty to their parents and success or happiness in America. Despite the fact that most immigrant tales reflect a degree of conflict as family members begin to assimilate, the way the conflict is approached, described and resolved varies significantly. For instance, Yezierska seems to suggest a certain hopelessness, while Lahiri describes a sense of positive resolution.
We have discussed notions of loyalty and assimilation in class; now it is your turn to explore this topic. Choosing one of these books, write a 3-4 page paper in which you discuss the impact of immigration and assimilation on the family unit. Quoting from one book, explore how immigration affects the different generations of a family. Questions you might consider include:
How does the writer develop/explore the value systems of parents and their children?
How are their approaches to America different? (What do they each expect from America?)
How do these differences impact the family system and relationships?
How do the parents respond to the divided loyalties of their children?
How do the daughters react (rebel)?
How does the writer resolve this conflict?
In order to do a good job on this essay,
Start by thinking about which text was the most accessible to you.
Next, consider what intrigued you most about the disparate approaches to America presented there.
Think about the entire novel or short story. Where do you see examples of how immigration and assimilation affect the family unit?
Write these examples down and then articulate a clear, concise argument for what these examples demonstrate about the evolving family dynamics of immigrant families.
Finally, as you write, be sure to offer textual evidence for your argument with direct quotes from the text(s). As always, you should provide context for the quote in the book AND context for how the quote is relevant to your argument, explicitly tying it to your central claim.
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