TheUnited States has been since recognized by many as a haven that isfull of opportunities. For this instilled perception, scores ofimmigrants flock to this country hoping to start a new beginning andhence a better life. This particular belief has led to thedevelopment of a certain mindset among individuals of other nationsstimulating the urge to move into the U.S. However, a significantnumber of immigrants face immense pressure when it comes to gettingadapted to the new environment and way of life.
Thisgreen surrounding and different activities lead to the questions asto whether immigrants should forget their origins. Many social andpolitical experts have tried to ask if these settlers ought to leavethe political, economic and turmoil behind or is there a possibilityof natural retention of intellection, emotional and politicalaffiliation with the former country. Although one may initiallyattempt to adhere to the traditional customs, only to be transformedand assimilated into the American culture. As time goes on, thechanges can then be observed in a person’s lifestyle.
Mostpeople have been forced to adjust mainly because they feel morecomfortable being part and parcel of the society. Additionally, manyresearch studies indicate that assimilation is more of an innateactivity through association either willingly or unwillingly.Regardless of the motivating factors, the first relocation willalways stimulate the process of incorporation. The truth of thematter is that immigrants will never be the same.
Analysisof Immigrant Characters
Thestory Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi is a classic example of howimmigrants look for means in which they can survive and sustainthemselves until stability is achieved. In a similar fashion, anotherauthor Noviolet Bulawayo writes a narrative entitled “We need NewNames.” These two books express the experiences of different peoplealthough with a similar theme on their journeys to the United Statesand the effects that this new-found residence had on them and theirfamilies. In the first Novel, Selasi brings up the events surroundingKweku, a Ghanaian man who left his country. This man meets with hiswife who is also an immigrant from Nigeria. They came together andgot married while still continuing with their studies.
Asthe two progress, Kweku becomes a brilliant surgeon while his wifeturns out to be a lawyer although she gives up her career for thefamily. They also have four children in their married life. Eventsunfold for the worse as the family struggles to fit in a culture theyhadn’t been used to. Furthermore, Kweku loses his job and abandonshis family, returning to his home. His family suffers to the extentthat the children had to be pulled out of the school they werestudying. Some of the children are forced to return to Nigeria(Selasi 139). As time went by, the family bond was broken, and themembers got out of touch until the death of the father awoke in themthe reality of loss, shame, and abandonment.
Itall begins with the aspect of cultural assimilation where the maincharacter and his wife take part in the education, culture, andpractices of their new home. The hope of an improved life than thatof one’s home coupled with the instinct to fit drives the behaviorof an individual to be similar with that of the host society. Thereis always weighty pressure and stress amid life abroad, and Kweku isan example of a victim of circumstances. Just because he was animmigrant, the hospital management and the family of his patientvictimized and blamed him for an occurrence that was completelyunavoidable. The effect of such burdens not only from within theworkplace but also socially seem to have negative repercussions.
Itis possible that this family had considered itself stable and theloss of the surgeon’s job was a huge blow. It was then that itdawned on the man that while one can be acclimatized to the newcountry, it is another thing to be fully accepted and counted as areal member. This revelation sparked a spirit of defeat and lowesteem compelling Kweku to leave and go back to his home. A placewhere acceptance is not through familiarization but rather via arelatively natural manner. This story can be viewed from two angles.One is the loss of hope concerning the promise of culturalassimilation as portrayed by Kweku.
Onthe other hand, his wife’s resilience depicts another elementrepresenting an immigrant category who, despite the inequalities,problems and challenges still struggle to keep their status atequilibrium to the end. It is an expectation that anyone who goes toAmerica must become successful and the thought of losing his jobmakes the father of this family ashamed. This aspect might have beeninstilled from his African background. He does not feel comfortableopening his heart out to his family. However, by his death, his wifeand children came to understand his reasons and pain entirely, andcourse of action hence motivating healing and reunion.
NovioletBulawayo employs a slightly different direction. In this book,happenings revolve around a slum region named Paradise within theboundaries of Zimbabwe. Darling, the main character is abandoned byher father who immigrated to South Africa and partly by her motherwho has to work to sustain the family. Although the countryexperiences bouts of civil unrest, it is not something that is new.However, these struggles push the young girl to relocate to Americahoping to have a better future. As she delves into her newenvironment, the young lady distances herself from Paradise’slifestyle. Communication to her family and friends dwindles untilChipo reprimands her and she realizes the bitter truth (Bulawayo132).
Thecomponent of immigration as a potent threat of cultural estrangementis explicitly illustrated. Similar to the story above, the maincharacter here is a symbol of how the lack of stability can affect anindividual. Unlike Zimbabwe, America is a politically stable countrywith education to all and a favorable socio-economic state. Movingfrom a disturbing situation, an individual such as Darling tends tofind peace and content in the new country. This means that to createsustainability and stability there is the unconscious process wherethe old unwanted culture and lifestyle is abandoned, while theseemingly better custom is embraced.
Thereis a strong proposition that people from the same locality caneventually end up in diverse lifestyles. As such, the Americanlifestyle has a high capability of affecting any particularindividual, more so an immigrant. To survive and fit in well, one hasto put away his or her previous practices and take up the host’ssociety way of life. However, a complete sense of acceptance is noteasily achieved as there are still cases where immigrants may betreated in a discriminating manner.
Bulawayo, NoViolet. We Need New Names: A Novel. New York: Back Bay Books, 2014. Document.
Selasi, Taiye. Ghana Must Go: A Novel. New York: Penguin Books, 2014. Document.