Immigration Trying to Achieve the “American Dream” Essay
Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies shows that many struggles of Indian immigration into America. When immigrants come to America, it is believed to achieve the American dream of freedom and success. In her short stories, Lahiri shows how transitioning into American culture is quite a difficult struggle and might not be what each of the characters might have expected. Within the three short stories Mrs. Sen’s, This Blessed House, and The Third and Final Continent shows a variety of ways the “American Dream” has come to be and that sometimes trying to achieve this acceptance and dream is harder than it has been made out to be.
The short story called Mrs. Sen’s tells the story of an older Indian lady who is stuck within her cultures tradition and trying not very hard to become part of the American culture. Her will to become part of this new country is very slim and integrating into the culture is very difficult for Mrs. Sen. Mrs. Sen refuses to drive and uses that as an excuse for her own rebellion against the American culture. Mrs. Sen watches a child named Eliot who is going through his own struggles. Being away from his mother on most days, Eliot is more mature than others his age and Mrs.
Sen says that Eliot is wiser than she was at his age. “ When I was your age I was without knowing that one day I would be so far. You are wiser than that, Eliot. You already taste the way things must be. ” (123) Within Mrs. Sen, being away from her family is the hardest part of the transition into American life. In the end of the story, Mrs. Sen tries to make an effort by driving for the very first time. By becoming distracted, she hits a pole and doesn’t have her license. She retreats to her room after the failed attempt of having that one bit of independence. At the beginning of this experience, Mrs.
Sen was already against turning herself in to the American culture that she now lived in leaving her trapped within her old ways. Within the story This Blessed House, a newly married Indian couple moves into their new house though they have only known each other for a short period of time. Though their marriage was not a traditional arrangement, their parents matched them after a brief introduction and courtship. Twinkle and Sanjeev struggle with their marriage after many Christian artifacts are found throughout the house old. Twinkle starts having an infatuation with the artifacts and keeps them on the mantel, in kind of a way of a child.
It seems to make Sanjeev feel uncomfortable with this because of the lack of communication they have. This relates the concept of fitting into American lifestyle because I feel as if when other cultures are brought together ,the curiosity of that culture becomes well defined. In Twinkles case, she isn’t able to let any of the artifacts go for some odd reason. This shows to me as a reader that she has a connection with these items and how it relates to the American culture more than Sanjeev. I also believe that Twinkle uses this as a way to try to make friends because of where they moved where she knows no one.
This relates to immigration because when most immigrants move over to America they have trouble trying to relate to others. In Twinkle’s case, though she is not a full immigrant, her culture keeps her from trying to fit in in some way and after finding these artifacts she was able to have a normal conversation with the people who were invited to her household. “That was the start of it. As if by some unspoken pact, the whole party joined forces and began combing through each of the rooms, opening closets on their own, peering under chairs and cushions, feeling behind curtains, removing books from bookcases. (154) Immigration and trying to find a place in society seems to be a hard thing to accomplish and with Twinkle’s infatuation with the artifacts, it helps her make friends within their new area. With the last two short stories, the immigration and acceptance experience was not as great as most people would have thought. Though with the short story “The Third and Final Continent”, I was left feeling very positive about the immigration process for the characters. The narrator at the very beginning seems excited about his new experience into the American culture while reading his guidebook about America.
His first experience with the noise of his new residence is one of the only downsides he has to the American lifestyle. When Mala comes into America, she weeps for her family and becomes homesick. This shows that it is an emotional change for all immigrants and the chance to see their families again is unknown. Unlike in the story “Mrs. Sen”, Mala is willing to make an effort to fit into this newfound society she now is apart of. Mrs. Croft found Mala to be the “perfect lady” when the narrator introduces his new wife to her.
This shows the narrator that even being accepted by someone whose opinion is outdated means that anyone somewhere can accept him or her as who they are. This opinion really helps the narrator and his wife live in the immigration part of Cambridge and try to be open to the acceptance they are given. “ I know my achievement is quite ordinary. I am not the only man to seek his fortune far from home, and certainly I am not the first. Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept.
As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination. ” (198) Within that quote, the story of immigration within this short story shows that it is a difficult process trying to reach success and the American dream. They are going to go through changes in life and even though the narrator’s achievements might seem ordinary and not the only man wanting to make it in this new culture, the experience to him was more than he imagined. Within the three short stories, as a reader I have gone through each of the steps of immigration through a physical and emotional standpoint.
Mrs. Sen’s showed that even with a new world and a new country, the process of leaving the ones you love behind and the tradition you grew up with is a difficult struggle everyday. Also, going through the adaption to the new society is also a difficult process and some may not be able to accept it. This Blessed House showed the wanting of acceptance from everyone is a process, which in a way might go against what you believe in. With Twinkle, finding interest in something that wasn’t her own beliefs seemed to be the only way to make friends.
The Third and Final Continent shows the hard work put into being an immigrant and in the end coming to America was everything, as it seemed though the process of getting there was hard and painful. Going through different houses and trying to get your family across seems to be harder than what it is made out to be and when people go through it, it is a great accomplishment. Each of these short stories show that reaching the “American Dream” is harder that what it really is made out to be. Some will make it out with success and some will not. It is the process that immigrants have to go through to become something that they always desired.