"The Struggle To Be An All-American Girl" Summary & Analysis
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The Struggle to Be An All-American Girl
Being different is not always a bad thing. But first it is important for everyone to accept his difference among people. And this is the lesson learned from the story of “The Struggle to be an all American Girl” by Elizabeth Wong. Elizabeth's analysis describes her childhood experience. The problem of being unable to fit in a new society is not an individual one. There are many children and teenagers who live in foreign countries suffering from the same problem. Cultural difference is supposed to be a positive thing. However, in many cases it causes many problems for many people around the world, especially, those at young ages. Of course, one can understand that a child who is going to a new school wants people to love him and make new friends. However, when analyzing reality, one can see that in a new and foreign country this task is not always easy. Thus, the struggle to be an all American girl is handling some analyses and issues such as the cultural diversity and how it affects the life of people, especially children. Learning new language, embracing new traditions and getting new experience are the three main positive effects of cultural diversity in "The Struggle to Be An All American Girl".
"The Struggle to Be All American Girl" Summary:
Cultures differences and generation gaps are very important topics. Most people tend to differentiate among genders as they build their concepts on several factors. “The struggle to be an all American girl” is a short story that describes the main problems of the teenagers, who live away from their native homes and face many matters in their lives. It is a story that describes the challenges that families face and the challenges that teenagers face when they try adapting to a new country. The main character in the story "Elizabeth Wong" tries throughout the “The Struggle to Be an All American Girl” story to ignore her own origins and focuses mostly on her new home, which is America. She tries to ignore her original language, her place of residency and even her family all because she wants to get adapted to the American society. Throughout the story, it is clear that the main character is totally in love with the American culture and the American way of living. She sees the Chinese language, which is the language of her native land, embarrassing and she even hates the Chinese New Year. However, the ending of the “The Struggle to Be an All American Girl” story though vague shows that maybe when she grew up Wang discovered that her old way of thinking was not exactly the right way of thinking for her at that time. Only couple of words at the ending show regret but those words in fact show the whole lesson behind the story. “The Struggle to Be All American Girl” is a story that shows the generation gap between the parents, the cultural gap between people from different origins, cultural adaptation and the idea of cultural belonging in families with mixed cultures.
“The Struggle to Be an All American Girl” is a short story that digs deep in the heart of multicultural people and specifically multicultural youth. It is a story that allows teenagers with different cultures to view their own feelings as children and easily connect with their origins. Wang and her brother inside the story obviously love the American culture more than their original culture however because of their mother they end up learning their original Chinese language for two years before quitting. Wang obviously did not think about Chinese as an advantage to her life, she did not think that being bi-lingual is cool but instead she thought that Chinese was an embarrassing language and hated it. She had the chance to become a mixed culture woman but she threw it away because she loved the American culture more and wanted to be just like any other American girl a woman who eats American food and speaks only English all the time. Losing the Chinese culture obviously cost Wang a lot and that is why the ending of the story shows what could only be considered regret for her action because she obviously discovered that no matter what she does she is still Chinese deep inside her and her face is still Asian so she can never run away from her origin. Being a kid in a new culture, one will always seek approval from the culture around you however, without origin; one will never get any approval from anyone. A multicultural background is positive aspect not a negative one and thus learning everything about two cultures is in fact a good thing in life that should always be encouraged.
"The Struggle To Be An All-American Girl" Analysis:
Learning a New Language Idea Analysis:
Learning new language is very essential these days. People who are coming from different cultural backgrounds are mainly different in language, the way they look, the way they dress, traditions and religious beliefs. The majority of people who travel to a foreign country, especially the United States of America are charmed with almost everything. As the United States seceded to advertise for what they call the American dream. And such success made the English language, especially the American accent, the most popular language around the world and all people want to learn it. And almost all people who travel to the United States do not take with their original language. They prefer to talk English or sometimes mix it with their original language. Just like what Elizabeth and her brother did, they learned English and always talked with it. Moreover, they always felt embarrassed from their mother as she couldn’t speak English in a good way. They also hated that their mother forced them to go to a Chinese school in order to learn about their original language and not to forget it. The worst thing a person can do is to leave all his origins behind while trying to fit in a new culture.
Instead, a person who is going to move to another country with another culture should preserve his origins such as his original language and traditions. And if he did not do so, then he will be creating a cultural gap between his original cultural and the new cultural. According to Buettner, 2008, P.877 the cultural gap is the worst thing that could affect the people’s life for a long time. Thus, young children who are going to live in a foreign country and new culture should learn the importance of embracing their original roots and how to fit in a new society without leaving their origins behind.
Elizabeth Wong and her brother in "The Struggle to Be an All American Girl" hated their original culture and did their best to hide it and their family from people. Such attitude should tell a lot about their feeling and fear of being bullied and rejected in their classmates in their new school. Elizabeth also described her journey to the Chines school as if it was a punishment or torture. Their mother forced her and her brother to go to this school in an attempt from her to make a connection between them and their original culture, language and tradition. what Elizabeth’s mother did is considered the right thing that an immigrant mother can do in order to avoid her children the cost of being rootless, just like Elizabeth felt at the end of her story. The childhood experience of Elizabeth and her brother described the experience and struggle of many immigrant children who underwent almost the same problems and in many cases ended up with like Elizabeth with nothing connecting them to their original culture and heritage.
Discovering New Cultures Idea Analysis:
Knowing and embracing others` cultures prevents any clashes among civilizations. The impact of the moving far away from a person’s origin is very obvious in the struggle to be an all American girl. Elizabeth from the beginning of her description for her Chinese old school is favoring her American school and criticizing the bad condition of her Chinese school. As a matter of fact, Elizabeth and her brother are not the only children who belong to different culture and tried their best to leave it and embrace the new one. And all of this is just to fit in and feel accepted among their new friends. They even did not try to embrace their original culture and see if people will like them or not. They just developed the presumption that their original language is embarrassing and people will not like it. The sad thing is that they made an unfair comparison between almost everything that is different from their origin country, China and the United States. And of course, this comparison ended in the favor of the United States. These facts indicate to what extent people who are charmed with another culture could be negatively affected by the differences between the cultures.
Elizabeth and her brother not only they wanted to be an all American children, but also they wanted to change their family with them. They always believed that their mother’s accent was funny and embarrassing and when she or their father went to take them from school, they never wanted any one to know that they are their parents. According to Wong, 2010, P.1, the immigrant children and their families should be aware of all these problems that they highly expected to face in the new society. Parents should prepare their children for the coming change and inform them about the importance of staying connected to their origins. Another important thing that immigrant children and teen agers should now about moving to a new culture is that they can absorb what only fits them and their culture from the new one not to fully drown in it and forget everything about their culture and heritage like what Elizabeth and her brother did.
Getting New Experiences Idea Analysis:
Getting new experience and knowing many new things in life is also an obvious impact of culture diversity. Culture diversity and interaction has become a very important issue today. Many countries are supporting the culture diversity among its citizens. If any country put the culture diversity of its society in its right path, they will benefit a lot from it. The United States and many European countries are embracing a huge numbers of people from different cultural backgrounds. And the governments of these countries are doing their best in order to use and benefit from such diversity in many aspects of life. May be, at the past students from different cultures were facing many problems while adopting in the new society as the acceptance of people from different culture was not spread as today. Moreover, these American and European cultures are taking a lot form other cultures such as Indian, Asian and Arabian cultures. According to Michael, 2014, P.317, the concept of culture interaction is broadly used in different educational fields today.
As it is obvious in the struggle to an all American girl the awareness about the importance of social diversity should start with younger ages. Children are the most affected by the culture difference especially due to its negative impacts. The United States is one of the main countries that contain large numbers of people from different cultures and trying its best to embrace them with the American culture without harming their original cultures. However, the process of controlling the negative effects of culture difference among children is a little bit difficult. It is difficult to control the world of children. Children’s acceptance and rejection of something or somebody is not easy to predict. Thus, it is important to educate the young generations about culture diversity. Moreover, children and teenagers should learn to respect the culture of others and if they met a new classmate from different culture they should welcome him or her and treat them in a good manner.
Gaps Between Generations Idea Analysis:
The generation gap between the parents and their children became very common in “The Struggle to Be an All American Girl”. This problem is very dangerous as the parents see their children as wrong doers and youths that do not respect any customs or traditions. On the other hand, the children see their parents as old fashioned and people who do not follow the fashion. This problem can make parents dislike their children manners all the time and would make children disobey their parents and refuse any advice from them. This gap was also existent between the parents and the grandparents in the past. The solution for this problem is that parents should understand that their children have different mentalities and different priorities. Children also should obey their parents and respect their opinions. The problem between generations and the catastrophic gap becomes bigger when the family transfers from the homeland to live in another place. The parents miss the culture of their native countries. The parents become interested to teach their children their native language and teach them the traditions and the customs of their original countries.
On the other hand, the children like to cope with the new culture of the new country they live in. They like to learn the language of the new country and wear exactly as like the new people. They think that through this they can cope with the new life. The fact is that when these newcomer children get older, they discover that their parents were right. People should cope with the culture of the new land, but they must not forget their original culture. The parents always see that they cannot depend upon their children as bearers of the original culture. Old people most of the time want to see their children growing up the way they did. They never give up on the old ideas they were brought upon and they always try to instill their own thoughts into their children, which is one of the reasons that children always feel a barrier between them and their parents.
Cultural Gaps Idea Analysis:
Cultural gap is considered the biggest stress that expats face when they live out of their countries. That is because cultural gap lead to isolation and loneliness. According to Frances Pine (2014) P.98, immigration gives people a chance to earn more money, learn more and make a better life for themselves however not without facing problems. One of the problems that people who migrate face in their new country comes with the cultural gap that they touch when they try to interact with the native people of the new country. In the “The Struggle to Be an All American Girl” story Wang`s mother seems to suffer from a bit of a cultural gap which is why her English is not good and most of the time she spells some of the letters wrongly. The younger brother also seems to suffer from a bit of a cultural gap as he sometimes misspells words however he always blames his mother when he makes a mistake and tries again to adapt to his new culture. Cultural gaps can be seen in how people interact with each other, their behaviors, education and their customs.
Cultural gaps always present a problem for new immigrant and sometimes the feeling of estrangement that immigrants get never goes away. Cultural gaps between people from different origins are met by cultural adaptation of the new people and this happened in “The Struggle to Be an All American Girl”. There are two type of cultural belonging, the mother`s insistence on holding on to her culture can be seen as a way of cultural belonging and on the other hand her daughters insistence on holding on to the American culture and the way the Americans are living can also be seen as a way of cultural belongings. The mother`s insistence on teaching her kids Chinese shows that she did not want them to stray away from the origin she is proud of. On the other hand the daughter`s love for English and the smell of the perfume of her teacher shows a clear insistence on belonging to the American culture not to the Chinese culture.
Parents' Understanding Idea Analysis:
When bringing up children in a different culture, parents need to understand their children and their thoughts. Children want to belong to the new culture, because they do not want to feel different from other people around them. That is why parents need to support children in their adaptation process while giving them hints on the amazing aspects of their original culture and allowing them to choose what they want to do in the future, whether they want to learn their original language or not. Thus, kids when living outside their own country always want to adapt and interact more with their new culture than their original one. As per “The Struggle to Be an All American Girl”, adapting to a new culture is not an easy thing however, many people successful adapt to new cultures without even neglecting their own culture. According to Wagman (2014) P. 127, differences between cultures would result in suffering. Many of the young people of different origins living in the U.S. think the same way as Elizabeth and her brother.
When Wang was finally freed from her Chinese lessons she thought that she was finally ready to adapt completely to the American society she wanted to belong to. Thus, leaving origin is not the right way to handle living in a new culture in a new country, embracing both cultures is probably the right solution. Embracing different cultures is a good solution for people stuck in the middle of two cultural backgrounds. Cultural differences are essential between countries and that is why some people seem to seek different paths when it comes to their cultural belonging, Wang insisted that she wants to belong to the American culture only all throughout the story. That did not seem to work for her in the end, thus, what she did was only throwing away what she belonged to and ending up not belonging anywhere. She could have gone and done something different when she had the opportunity but she obviously did not know as a child that having mixed cultures could be an option for her in the future. The US is full of people with different origins thus having mixed cultures is not a big problem in the US and many people identify themselves by their original culture inside the country. Wang wasted a very big opportunity by abandoning her origin and that could be seen in the regret that she presented in the final words of her story.
Finally, the analysis of the social and culture diversity shows that they should be a positive element in a society with positive influence of the members of this society. However, the way with which people see and deal with it is the most important factor that determines whether culture diversity will have a positive influence or negative one. People should realize the importance of maintaining and preserving their origins, as this is what makes them different and recognizable. As for Elizabeth, she has realized the mistake that she and her brother did too late.
However, the awareness of the importance of culture and social diversity has increased a lot in the recent years. This increasing awareness especially among teenagers has enabled many students to embrace their original culture and do not feel embarrassed or rejected because of it. The short story of “the Struggle to an all American girl” is giving a brief description for the childhood period of the author, Elizabeth Wong and her brother.
"The Struggle To Be An All-American Girl" is mainly discussing the issue of culture gap that was created between the original Chines culture of Elizabeth and the new one which she embraced and completely dropped the original one. After, cutting all connection with her origins and finally become an all American girl, Elizabeth is now regretting it all and wishing that she could be attached to her Chinese culture again.