On Gold Mountain

2538 Words Jan 1st, 2011 11 Pages
On Gold Mountain: The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family written by Lisa See is an inspirational narrative depicting her Chinese families experiences and struggles immigrating to the west coast of America during the 19th and 20th century. The author was effective in telling her families story. There were similarities and differences between the Fong family’s experiences and the Chinese community’s immigration experiences as a whole. Immigration to America was a phenomenon for Chinese people in the late 19th century in search of “Gold Mountain”. This was a term in Chinese culture to describe economic opportunity in the state of California after gold was found. The title of the book is a very appropriate metaphor …show more content…
Fong See’s family was no different as he formed partnerships with 10 men in his family in order for them to claim status as “merchants”. He changed his business name to the “Fong Suie On” to Americanize the name and to show that the Fong family had been merchants for two decades. Doing this still did not guarantee that his family could smoothly immigrant. In 1902, when Fong See and his family arrived back to San Francisco from China, he easily passed immigration as he had established his own two ladies undergarment businesses and ran an auction business. He was married to a white American woman and had three children. It was quite evident that he was a wealthy and successful merchant. However, his two brothers who had received “merchant” status from Fong See were not as lucky. They were detained, interrogated, and humiliated. Fong Quong was held for 54 days before he was finally released. This shows how difficult it was for Chinese men to enter to the United States even if they had documents. This struggle in Fong See’s family displays how strict the Exclusion Act was and how serious the American government was with the enforcement of the law.
The mass of Chinese immigrants to a common ground in California paved the way for the emergence of Chinese enclaves referred to as Chinatowns. Early 20th century Chinatowns were associated with filth, depravity, and violence by American