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Immigration Ideology

In “American Ideals”, Theodore Roosevelt emphasized that immigrants who moved to the U.S. to start a new life should obliterate the connections that they had with their “Old-World society”, and “throw [themselves] heart and soul, and without reservation” in their effort of becoming a true American. As an Asian American, I came to the U.S. about 12 years ago and had to face this issue at first hand. Being a young boy, I found it extremely challenging to make all types of transitions since there was such a distinctive contrast between the two languages, customs, and ways of life. Even after all this time, I still couldn’t entirely erase those original characteristics, such as “a barbarous jargon” or traditions that make me seem like “an uncouth boor”. Personally, I believe that what Roosevelt wanted is nearly impossible to achieve because everything that happens in a person’s life becomes imprinted so deeply within their soul that it forms an essence that epitomize their ethnic roots and heritage. Even though I agree with Roosevelt’s ideology that immigrants should assimilate to the dominant culture in order to be successful, I am still prideful of my Asian culture, and will continue to preserve it so one day I will have the opportunity to pass it down to future generations.

From Roosevelt perspective, he not only advised immigrants to become “thoroughly Americanized” but that “we have the right to demand it”. I found this idea outrageous and despicable due to its contradiction to what this country is all about and the ambiguity of the phrase “thoroughly Americanized”. We live in a country that exemplifies the idea of freedom and liberty, so what right do we have to tell other people that they have to live their life like an American? Besides, in my opinion, I don’t think there is an exact way to define an “American” due to the fact that this country is made up of immigrants to begin with. Our mosaic culture is a result of combining all our individuality into a heterogeneous mixture and for that reason the definition of what an American is varies greatly depending on who you ask. On the other hand, I suppose there are some unified ideas that most American citizens share and that immigrants should absorb and retain, such as religious toleration, civil freedom, and a sense of patriotism. However, I hope Roosevelt’s idea of “True Americanism” won’t overstep that fine line and blossom into something that would suppress our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

In order to preserve the purity of the American culture, Roosevelt also suggested “more drastic laws to check and regulate our immigration”. We know that not everyone is willing to adapt to the American way of life or even if they’ve came here for the right reason. When a country “freely extend the hand of welcome and of good-fellowship to every man”, it is susceptible to numerous negative influences that could lead to internal chaos and devastations. Without taking the proper security measure, we won’t know if the people we are allowing to enter our land of opportunity would work hard and persevere on their journey to the American dream, or abuse their privileges and expose the vulnerability of our country as they wreak havoc in our nation. This land should act as a stepping stone for those with virtuous goals, or a blank canvas for those who wanted a fresh start, yet because of those unworthy immigrants, who introduced their “Old-World quarrels and prejudices”, we are beginning to see our personal freedom become more and more restricted as time passes. Nevertheless, instead of preventing the foreign corruption that exists within our territory, I find that the stricter regulations has only caused more inconvenience and despair to our devoted citizens, which resulted in more hostility between them and our government.

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Despite being one of the most recognizable figures in Greek mythology, I find it ironic that both William Carlos Williams and Pieter Brueghel devoted their works to the “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” instead of having Icarus’s death be the center of focus. Throughout the majority of the poem, William depicted “the whole pageantry” associated with the vernal equinox that was illustrated in Brueghel’s magnificent landscape. The primary subject of the piece wasn’t revealed until the end by identifying “a splash quite unnoticed” and the trajectory of feathers, which ultimately lead to the conclusion that it was “Icarus drowning”. The satirical poem exposed the insignificance of death by highlighting the fact that life moves on as time continues to proceed. Williams wanted the readers to come to arealization that the circle of life is analogous to the intervallic seasonal changes, as Icarus’s life came to an end during the spring renewal. I believe that the poet’s proposition on the irrelevance of life  is derived from his fear of not having the recognition he deserve after his death. Conversely, I truly believe that whoever you might be, you will always occupy a special place in certain people’s heart, whether if it’s your love ones, your family, or friends. So regardless of what your achievements in life will be,  it will all be worth it in the end.

 

Even though they are two of the most influential authors of the 20th century, William Carlos Williams and Langston Hughes have very contrasting style of writing. Most of Williams’ works are ambiguous and broad, not to mention extremely difficult to decipher or interpret their true meanings. In addition to the randomness of his subject matter, which includes a “red wheelbarrow”, a deceased dog, and “plums in the icebox”, the excessive use of metaphorical imagery and figurative language further enhances the complexity of his pieces. On the other hand, Hughes’ poems are much easier to comprehend due to the specific details of people and places that are mention to clearly support the message that he want to express to the readers. In spite of their differences, I can’t say I questioned the validity of their credential of being distinguished writers since they successfully established their insightful point of view in one way or another.

When it comes to literature, I find that the more compelling pieces are the ones that I can relate with more easily, and for that reason I tend to be more magnetized to the straightforwardness style of Langston Hughes. I was especially intrigued by the subtle message that was implied in Hughes’s “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, where I believe he used rivers as a correlation to the African American race. By portraying the four most momentous rivers on Earth, he indirectly mapped out the evolution the African race throughout history. The “Euphrates when dawns were young” refers to the origin of all civilization, followed by a “hut near the Congo” which represents the place that most Africans call home in their continent. Later on, the earliest form of slavery began when the pyramids were “raised upon the Nile”, and continues to expand across the Atlantic and ending at the Mississippi in the United States. I was very impress of how he was able to express the tale of freedom and enslavement that their race as a whole have endured and simultaneously assert their wisdom and strength despite using first person perspective. This style of communicating as a whole race was also palpable in “Theme for English B”, another one of Hughes’s well known poem. Similarly to the rivers poem, Hughes also uses first person perspective as he pinpointed the major tribulations of racism that existed during that time period. However the major distinction of this poem versus the previous is that he decided to be more literal in terms of his diction. He initiated his opinion by mentioning he likes “to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love” in order to create a connection with the readers before he cleverly raise an audacious statement like “You are white- yet a part of me, as I am a part of you” in an attempt to introduce the idea of racial equality. I have so much respect for his ingenuity to eloquently bring up a truly controversial issue with so much power and motivation but at the same time not once sound disrespectful, resenting, or slanderous. It is works like these that will strongly influence readers as it encourage thoughts, inspire ideas, and revolutionize society.

Since the beginning of time, love is an emotion that has derived from a basic feeling between two people, but as society evolves, it has gradually expanded into a multitude of sensations. Every individual tends to have a different preference when it comes to love and these can cover a vast range on the spectrum. My fondness tends to veer toward the innocent childhood puppy love that was portrayed in Gary Soto’s poem, “Oranges”.  Childhood affection are usually very naïve but to me it does illustrate the purest form of love. As with human nature, people’s innocence frequently becomes corrupted with age, as their hormonal influence eclipse their true righteous instinct, resulting in a shift in their attentiveness more toward physical attraction. An example of this is depicted in Gary Snyder’s “Beneath My Hand and Eye the Distant Hills. Your Body”, as he idealizes the female body by comparing it to natural features such as the “snow-dappled Uintah Mountains, soft cinder cones and craters,” and the smooth curves and bends that a stream travels. Even though the vivid imagery of this poem can sexually stimulate some people, it blatantly downplays the superficiality of this type of appeal.

On the contrary, some people are willing to be completely truthful and tolerate each other’s imperfections in order to progress their love to a higher level. Many prefer this type of deeper and more sincere love; also refer to as unconditional love. Two poems that represent these styles of love quite well are “I’ve Been Under Many Ceilings” by Jose Villamil and “True Love” by Judith Viorst. According to Villamil’s perception, honesty was crucial enough that he puts everything on the line by expressing how every place he has been, every ceiling he has seen, and every immoral experience he has had, is meaningless compared to the one person who he consider to be his true love. I found his approach incredibly risky and a bit desperate and improbable. In contrast, the poem “True Love” exemplifies a more realistic relationship since both members exhibit flaws that truly test the other’s patience. Despite having incorporated a sense of humor to offset the seriousness elements, the line “He understood why I hated him, I understood why he hated me,” shows me that they might have a web of mixed emotions that has became more and more entangled through the countless years of being together. Regardless of not letting those “features of married life… dampen the fires of passion,” it’s not healthy to bottle up those convoluted emotions because once your leniency wears out, you might find yourself drowning in a sea of despair and regrets while searching for that “orange fire that was so bright in the gray of December.”

Do you believe in love at first sight? If so, how do you know if the person you meet is “the one”? These are questions that have mystified mankind since the dawn of time. It’s a matter of how much you trust your initial impression and how strong of a hunch you have, unfortunately sometime it doesn’t work out and this failure is the main dilemma of Jhumpa Lahiri’s short story, “Sexy”. Miranda, who works alongside her Indian friend Laxmi as a pledge solicitor for a radio show, ran into Dev, a Bengali Indian, at the feminine section of a renowned department store. After making an instant connection with him, Miranda continues to allow their relationship to flourish despite knowing that he is waiting for his wife to return from her vacation to India. It was the first time that Miranda was with someone that shows her the gallantries that most women yearn for, such as holding doors open, paying for things, kissing her hand, and bringing her massive bouquet of flowers. After the surreal incident at the Mapparium, when he whispered “You’re sexy” to her, Miranda was truly convinced that he was the one. Even with the return of Dev’s wife, they continued their risky secret affairs every Sunday as Miranda begin to make more of an effort in strengthening their relationship. The climax of the story took place when Laxmi’s cousin and her kid, Rohin, visited them, after coming off a divorce with her husband due to his cheating ways. While babysitting Rohin, Miranda found out the true meaning of the word “sexy”, and ultimately leading to her decision to terminate her dishonorable affairs with Dev.

Love tends to make people lose some of their meticulous sense of judgment by clouding their conscience with biased thoughts and sexual desires. In the story, Dev surreptitiously manipulated Miranda’s feeling by consistently leaving her phone messages like “I’m thinking about you, I can’t wait to see you” to intensify her lustful temptation for him. She continuously felt “his whisper drifting through her body, under her skin” as they begin to consume her gradually to the point that her life revolves around him as “she knew how to wait, waited for Sunday and seemed that [it] would never come.” In my opinion, Dev is such a devious and conniving jerk that only cares about his needs, like how he always take a 12 minutes nap after making love. As a lame excuse to conceal his self-centeredness and the fact that he was simply using her for sex, he suggested “it allows [them] to sleep together”. The role that Laxmi played in the story as a permanent support for her cousin and always sticking by her side really inspires me to be a better person. Also, I truly sympathize with Laxmi’s cousin for the pain she suffer, raising her kid alone as a result of her husband’s disloyalty and betrayal. As for Miranda, regardless of my objection to her initial corrupted action, I am incredibly proud of her for having the courage and audacity to do what’s right after being enlightened that the true definition of “sexy” is “loving someone you don’t know.”

Industrialization and Modernization

As the U.S. is expanding economically at the turn of the 18th century, there was a rise of large towns as the advancement of technology allows more apparatus to be developed in factories. People began to migrate from farms to cities to pursue their dreams by finding a job. However, even with working long hours, the difference in wealth between owners and laborers continued to grow. Also children were expected to work in these awful conditions instead of having a carefree childhood.

I believe that children shouldn’t have to put their life on the line and try to be a “big boy doing a man’s work”. They should be allowed to have a simple and innocent life instead of dealing with labor and machinery like the boy in “Out, Out”. The buzz saw, like a wild animal, continuously snarled and rattled at the boy, which represents how companies tend to have a controlling grip on their workers. Like many workers of that time, he literally gave his life away for his work just to have other people ignored his fatality “since they were not the one dead,” and how he was nothing more than just another replaceable “piece” of society.

Even though industrialization was an important stepping stones to the development of our country, I still find it astounding the sacrifices that were made by workers, who just have conformist and materialistic ideas that ultimately lead to turmoil resulting in their destruction. Portrayed in the second part of “Howl”, those ideas invited an evil into our world symbolized by the “Robot apartment! Blind capitals! [And] Demonic industries!” associated with Moloch. Workers need to realize that they “broke their back lifting the city to Heaven” but the reality is they should only do things that make them happy like following their dreams, adorations, and visions.

Despite all the challenges they had to face, it was the worker’s choice to have that type of life. Everyone has a specific preference, either if it is city life or rural life; they enjoy the benefits each has to offer along with the hindrances that go along with them. I have experienced both type of life and I would like to enjoy the serenity of rural area before urbanization encompasses every part of the planet.

Racial Diversity

Being part of a minority in this country, I can relate to the struggles that different races have to go through as they try to assimilate to the dominant culture. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity people are associated with, they should be proud of their culture and not let anything or anyone prevent them from reaching their goals. It’s important for these people to embrace the minute differences that essentially define their uniqueness and individuality. By having anthologized literature that expressed the perspective of a race as a whole, it will establish a more profound appreciation for that race.

Known most prominently for the hardship they have to endure, African American’s experiences in history epitomize the desire to be accepted by society. As depicted in “The Souls of Black Folk”, most blacks felt that they were “shut out from their world by a vast veil,” creating a sensation of “two-ness,” an idea of “looking at one’s self through the eyes of others.” By introducing W.E.B DuBois’s idea of viewing the world through their race, it really emphasize the fact that race literally consumed the life of many minorities. One of the main yearning for them is “to be a co-worker in a kingdom of culture,” highlighting their hope to be seen as significant and to have the same level of influence as the white people.

While trying to adapt to a new culture is advantageous, people should maintain their ethnic root and incorporate it in their everyday life like Anzaldua in “How to Tame a Wild Tongue.” She accentuated the idea that Americans tried to control her tongue, “train it to be quiet [and] make it lie down”. She not only feared the criticism from whites, but she also had to deal with disapproval from her own race. Instead of worrying about what opinion and stereotype that other people have on you, everyone should do what they feel best define who they are. For Anzaldua, both languages were important to her so she created a variant language, “un nuevo lenguaje … neither espanol ni ingles.”
Due to the diversity that exists in our country, one of the most treasured characteristics is its mosaic culture that blends all the distinctive nuances of all cultures that exist within its borders. From my experience, the process of becoming accustomed to a new world could take a little bit of time. There are numerous hurdles that I needed to navigate through, like the double consciousness feeling, the pressure of society, and the language barrier. Nevertheless, by the time I reached the end of that journey, I can finally offer my cultural contribution and imprint my unique signature on the fabric of American culture.

 

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