Last Updated 27 Jan 2021

Catfish and Mandala

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The American novelist Thomas Wolfe once wrote, "You can't go home again". Andrew Pham proved that wrong. "Andrew X. Pham, who came to the United States when he was ten years old as a 'boat person,' returned to Vietnam 20 years later on an extended bike trip in order to understand better his cultural identity" (Pearl 208). Despite the fact that Pham, like so many others of his generation, were forced to flee Vietnam, somehow they never lost the sense of identity with the homeland they only remembered as children.

Pham, as an insightful writer, decided it was time for him to find out if there still exists a bridge between him as a Viet-American and his homeland. Pham travels to Vietnam to search for his roots in hopes to construct his identity. For Pham in the search of his identity he flies to Vietnam to ride his bike, and also to find his roots. As he first gets off the airplane he is already is immediately receiving dirty aware of others who looks at him disdainfully because he is a “viet-kieu” which means foreign Vietnamese.

Then as he is at the baggage claim while retrieving his luggage, to his amazement he sees the workers tear up his bike that had been stuck in the claim belt. That hit a soft spot in him because that bike had been through so much with Pham. From then on his impressions of Vietnamese people were bad, He developed a negative impression of Vietnamese people and he automatically thought of them as a lower class persons than Americans human than he was. Pham in order to go back to his roots needs to humble himself as a true Vietnamese. Then he will understand his identity and appreciate his culture.

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