The Search for Identity in Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club Essay

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The Search for Identity in The Joy Luck Club

When Chinese immigrants enter the United States of America, it is evident from the start that they are in a world far different than their homeland. Face to face with a dominant culture that often times acts and thinks in ways contrary to their previous lives, immigrants are on a difficult path of attempting to become an American. Chinese immigrants find themselves often caught between two worlds: the old world of structured, traditional and didactic China and the new world of mobile, young and prosperous America. They nostalgically look back at China longing for a simpler life but look at the United States as a land of opportunity and freedom that they did not know in China.
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The only Chinese culture that they receive is what their parents are holding on to in America. The second generation is busy assimilating - absorbing American beliefs and practices even if those beliefs are negative views of their own race. But can the second generation Chinese Americans be truly happy as completely assimilated American for in this they are denying their heritage which runs much deeper than sallow skin and almond shaped eyes? Undoubtedly, the most profound struggle for the second generation Chinese American will be to seek out their identity and to find some fusion between the polarized worlds in their lives.

The second generation Chinese American's search for identity is indeed a challenge; however, the second generation Chinese American woman search for identity is magnified. For not only does the Chinese American woman struggle to find her ethnic identity, she must also find her strength and power as a woman. It is a dual struggle. But not only is it a dual struggle, it is a dual reality. The two entities cannot be separated. As Shirley Geok-Lim and Amy Ling stated so eloquently in their introduction the Reading the Literatures of Asian America, race and gender categories "are never unitary and separate' but are "historically and socioculturally embedded
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