Conflicting Cultures in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land

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Conflicting Cultures in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land

Novels that illustrate a confrontation between disparate cultures provide particularly straightforward insights into basic human behavior. Characters confronted with a cultural conflict must explore basic human commonalities to breach the gap between the cultures. In doing so, one diminishes the differences between her culture and the unknown culture, ultimately bringing her closer to her raw humanity. Simultaneously, this sets the stage for countless sociological case studies that may illuminate important human behaviors that are otherwise masked by the bias of a dominating culture. A prime subject for
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She decides to define herself as an American in rebellious response to Matsumoto's request that she become Japanese. In doing so, she tries to distance herself from her parents' Chinese heritage so that she may be more American. The best way to achieve this, as Chang sees it, is to convert to Judaism.

While she is outwardly successful, her identity confusion prevents her from being capable of handling a serious relationship, consequently implying her powerlessness to mature. Chang finally matures once she figuratively confronts Matsumoto, who becomes the culminating icon of her identity confusion. Because few scholarly analyses of Mona in the Promised Land have been compiled, nearly all information to support theories about the book must be derived from interviews with Jen, who loosely based Chang's experiences upon her own life as a Chinese American. With a flare of irony, Chang unknowingly provokes her identity crisis when she is thirteen years old. Introducing exchange-student Matsumoto to American culture, she informs him "You could become American... Like I could become Jewish, if I wanted to. I'd just have to switch..." (Jen 14). In thoughtlessly oversimplifying the concept of adapting a new cultural identity, Chang isn't aware that the idea will backfire and
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