In the American Society

1273 Words6 Pages
Gish Jen 's In the American Society is, on the surface, an entertaining look into the workings of a Chinese American family making their way in America. The reader is introduced to the life of a Chinese American restaurant owner and his family through the eyes of his American-born daughter. When we examine the work in depth, however, we discover that Jen is addressing how traditional Chinese values work in American culture. She touches on the difference in gender roles, generation gaps between immigrants and their American-born children, and the hesitance of these immigrants to conform to the American way of life.
To truly understand multicultural literature, one must first try to understand the cultural background of the author.
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When Booker and Cedric were arrested, Mr. Chang 's loyalty extended to bailing them out of jail. He even wanted to sponsor them as American citizens. When questioned by his wife about his loyalty to "his boys" over his family, Mr. Chang quoted his father as saying "the province comes before the town, the town comes before the family."
Mrs. Chang was much more interested in Americanization than her husband was. In China women are treated as second-class, not expected to work, and obey their husbands no matter what. Mrs. Chang, however, had worked as a supermarket manager, "she could pump her own gas and check her own oil" and "she was now interested in espadrilles, and wallpaper, and …the town country club." She still didn 't feel as though she could "simply up and do as she pleased" but she did secure an invitation to the country club without her husband 's knowledge. That invitation was courtesy of their daughter 's desire to fit better into society. Although it wasn 't addressed much in the story, Mona seemed to have a great desire to fit in. She wanted very much for her family to join the country club and "let it drop to Annie 's mother" which was most likely not simply a slip of the tongue but a conscious hint for Annie 's mother to write the recommendation letter.
The problem with the letter being written was the possibility that the Chang family would actually be invited to join the club. That would mean that they would

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