Mengesu From America Analysis

Decent Essays
For Mengestu, being able to fit in a community could only be achieved if he knows who he is and where he is from. His inability to understand his identity throughout the majority of the book is tied to his belief that identity is passed down from one's placed of origin, family background and views, environment growing up, or a combination of these. Thus, leaving Ethiopia at the age of two to live in the United States causes him an internal conflict over determining who he is. Is Mengestu from Ethiopia? Is he from America? Mengestu’s struggle to call a place home, to say he is “from” somewhere, is due to his perspective on identity, which causes him to isolate himself until he realizes that he, and only he, can define where home is.
Growing up as a kid, Mengestu’s assimilation into American culture leads him to be isolated at home. This is made clear when he declares, “It's easy to see now how even as a family we were isolated from one another-my parents tied and lost to their past; my sister and I irrevocably assimilated” (76). In a household where the cultural difference between him and his parents is growing, the lack of a present Ethiopian culture affected his connection to his parents’ experience as Ethiopian immigrants. His belief that identity is inherited from a place of origin leads him to become aware of the differences at home. As a result, Mengestu seems to regret the
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Not being Ethiopian cultured isolated him from other Ethiopians, including his parents. Not being native to the US led him to believe that he did not fit in America’s society, especially looking different and having traces of a foreign culture. Nevertheless, such perspectives evolved from realizing that from belonging nowhere he could eventually belong everywhere, as long as the decision to belong somewhere was backed by the will to make that place his
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