Chinese-American Immigration Experience

One sees the life of a Chinese woman after moving to the United States and the effects this change had on her and the people around her. Most Chinese males that immigrated to America were assumed to have the lust for gold, while many of the females were known to come only for their husbands or as companions. Chinese law prevented the Chinese from immigrating to America just to start a new life. This is the reason why it is assumed that most Chinese went just to find gold or some sort of work. Many went with their husbands to live there. Some women did not even go at all. They were called say sang gawk, or grass widows. They stayed in China while their husbands lived overseas. The book review of On Gold Mountain 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 for Fong See was English language. For long time she could not became fluent in English and more often than not learned so little that she was 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 she was forced to live and work in. Lisa Lee described the difficulty very well by taking a look at her grandmother's job in the clothing factory and on the ships. She had very little advancement in the work force because she couldn't communicate well enough that she actually had skills. Trials in the work place helped the immigrants impress upon their children the importance of education. A word that captures all people's attention was scarce among the Asian - American community. The low wages drove her grandmother 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: Lisa's grandmother 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 On Gold Mountain 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 On Gold Mountain could not overlook. Lisa Lee the writer wrote On Gold Mountain, tried 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. Lisa Lee created parallel experiences of her life to Leila's with education, family life, and work environment ...

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