Pitch Essay.docx - 1 I recommend Mona in a Promised Land a...

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I recommend “Mona in a Promised Land”, a novel authored by Gish Jen that captures the essence of multiculturalism by focusing on relationships between first generation immigrants from prosperous families. Jen uses a fresh, comedic tone to dramatize the stereotypes perpetuated by society, by following the coming-of-age of three young adults who belong to minorities during the metaphorical coming-of-age of an entire country; they not only have to establish an ‘find themselves’ by trying out different identities, they also have to adapt to the status quo changing around them. The biggest difference between this text and the texts we’ve read in class is that Mona, one of the protagonists, seeks assimilation in other minority; she doesn’t want to shed her identity as an Asian-American (one she moulds and conserves to the liking of her classmates) to become the quintessential White American, she seeks acceptance in Judaism. My essay will comprise of the contrast between the different paths adopted by her family and friends, and how the portrayal of these characters may add a unique perspective in the introduction of students to the classic texts in the Asian-American literature genre. The story revolves around the family of Ralph and Helen Chang, a Chinese couple who immigrate to the United States in order to escape political turbulence in China, and the upbringing of their American-born daughters, Mona and Callie, in a rich, Jewish neighbourhood in New York. It focuses on the different identities espoused by the family members, ranging from those who adopt classic American values while maintaining their foundation of traditional Chinese values (Ralph and Helen), those who find embrace being different and delve deeper in to their label to authenticate it (Callie), and those who assimilate with the culture they’ve been exposed to constantly (Mona). Mona’s exposure to Judaism through Barbara (her best friend) and Seth (her Jewish boyfriend) forms the crux of the story, and draws an interesting parallel to Callie’s pursuit of the Chinese language and the Chinese way of life. It cultivates curious 1
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