What culture they had was to be forgotten – a difficult and practically impossible feat. The Chinese-Americans faced a wall of cultural difference that could only be scaled with the support of their parents and local community. The book review of Bone by Nhi Le stated clearly how " ... the first generations" struggle to survive and the second generations" efforts to thrive ... " made the transition into American culture possible. Overcoming barriers such as language, education, work ethic, and sex roles was just a beginning to the problems that all Asian – Americans faced.
The most obvious and one of the most difficult walls to climb was the language. First generation immigrants rarely became fluent in English and more often than not learned so little that they were entrapped in a society of working in very menial jobs and job conditions. Jobs ranging from sweatshops, dirty factories, shipyards, and railroads are prime examples of the conditions they were forced to live and work in. Fae Ng described the difficulty very well by taking a look at her mother"s job in the clothing factory and Leon"s Job on the ships. They had very little advancement in the work force because they couldn"t communicate well enough that they actually had skills. Trials in the work place helped the immigrants impress upon their children the importance of education.
Education in Asia was and is completely different from western civilization. Asian teachers bear all the responsibility without any help from the home. Ng"s portrayal of Leila as a school teacher and how difficult it was to connect with the Asian children"s parents is a situation relating back to the separation of education and the home in Asia. Another difficult barrier in education was the role of the student. In Asia the student learns what material is given to them and interaction with the teacher is uncommon. The parent – teacher – student interaction was a brand new idea to Asian families. Adapting to this new system could take generations of work by devoted teachers.
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Money. A word that captures all peoples attention was scarce among the Asian - American community. The low wages drove both parents into the work force and changed the roles of women in the family. The Asian way of the wife being submissive in all activities and only working at home with the children changed with the move to America. The wife"s working made a more equal standing in the household but also deprived the children of a quality home life. The importance of women in Asia is non-existent. For example: women had to walk behind their husbands in Asian culture but in American culture they rose to equal standing because of their work status.
Understanding the Cultural differences can lead one to understand Bone from a new perspective. Expectations of difficulty for the women in the book are much more prevalent and the children"s unstable home environment can be understood. Views of hopelessness and defeat in a new culture are expectations that the reader of Bone could not overlook.
Fae Mynne Ng, the Author of Bone, will try to illustrate the difficulties of the cultural barriers throughout her book. Relating experiences of her characters to her own experiences in the Chinese subculture of San Francisco will be understood. Ng will create parallel experiences of her life to Leila"s with education, family life, and work environment. The hard life of the first generation will be paralleled to the lives of Leila"s mother and father. Ng will describe the tasks of adapting from old culture to new culture and the fight Asian – Americans had to win to get rights in America. Bone will help Americans to accept other cultures and understand how to deal with some of the problems that arise in the culture-clash of immigrants. A vast knowledge in relating to immigrants and accepting their differences will make the world a better place. Americans tolerance level and understanding of the immigrants is raised due to authors such as Fae Ng.
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