Site Loader

Both of these accounts of childhood experiences leave the readers with a feeling of satisfaction if their lives were relatively normal. However, even then, some would tell you that ‘normal’ is a setting on the dryer and that no one has a life so simple as to be categorized as normal. Neither Kinsgton nor Alverez had a dull childhood. Their lives are caught in the mystique that arises when cultural norms collide. This essay is for the purpose of explaining how the cultural norms played a key role in the rebellious nature of the two authors and their families focusing on their chosen method of communicating.Beginning with Yolanda, we will see how the exposure to America’s culture influenced her, but was frowned upon by her family in the Dominican Republic. It is also woven into the fabric of the overall story that social status was also a factor in the conflicting cultures. In her home town she had a rather high social status, but in America she is a middle class nobody.Likewise, Kingston portrays herself as having conflict with her cultural norms. Although it is not as easy to describe Kingston from the characters in her book, she still interweaves her thoughts throughout their entire account she relives for us. In some places within the text she is seen as a rebellious teen that seems to draw this type of character from the aunt who has no name. This unknown family member is sort of hero to Kingston because she lived a life, short as it was, that was contrary to the cultural norms of her day. The fact that she kills herself is not a factor to Kingston; she is still able to draw needed resolve from the unnamed aunt.It becomes obvious fairly quickly in each account that a woman’s place is one of solitude and service. To be a woman and be outspoken is unheard of and constitutes disgrace. The idea of learning another culture and its language is offensive to Yolanda’s female family members in the Dominican Republic.In halting Spanish, Yolanda reports on her sisters. When she reverts to English, she is scolded, “En Espanol!” The more she practices, the sooner she’ll be back to her native tongue, the aunts insist. Yes, and when she returns to the States, she’ll find herself suddenly going blank over some word in English or, like her mother, mixing up some common phrase. This time, however, Yolanda is not so sure she’ll be going back. But that’s a secret (Alvarez, 7).She is considered rebellious to these ladies simply because she was practicing her English in their presence. Kingston’s account opens with the same disgraceful story. A similar story of pregnancy outside of marriage causes feelings of rebellion upon which Kingston draws strength and resolve.Adultery is extravagance. Could people who hatch their own chicks and eat the embryos and heads for delicacies and boil their feet in vinegar as party food, leaving only the gavel, eating even the gizzard lining—could such people engender a prodigal aunt? To be a woman, to have a daughter in starvation time was a waste enough. My aunt could not have been the lone romantic who gave up everything for sex. Women in old China did not choose. Some man had commander her to lie with him and be his secret evil. I wonder whether he masked himself when he joined the raid on her family (Kingston, 6).Warrior is hardly a descriptive word for describing women in Chinese society. In fact, their culture looks down on the birth of a child if it is female. It is considered to be a waste of time, food, and money to have a girl in the family. The distinction for this tendency leaves modern people in disgust. It also leaves them wondering about the logic in their belief, for if it was not for females there would be no males. China’s culture reflects one of isolation for the women, but this does not mean they were without authority. Within households it was not uncommon for women to make decisions that would ultimately affect the entire household.Since the women were confined to the homes of the families, it was left to them to share historical accounts concerning their culture and the nature of how their culture came to be. When these women came to America and experienced the freedom that was theirs some reacted quite bold and would join their husbands in the field working along side of him.Today, these same characteristics describe women from both cultures. While the stories of Alvarez and Kingston speak of the developmental stages of the freedom that women in America experience today, it should be remembered that just as American women fought for the right to vote that these women were brave enough to counter cultural customs and come to America. Learning about freedom did have its disadvantages though, especially for Yolanda.Her family was well known in Dominica. She experienced a higher status while in her home town than she did in America. As the books written by these two women point out, the inner family struggle they experienced was common for women to experience when trying to change or move to a place with different cultural customs. Symbols in each culture from which these women came also played a role in their experience with America and ultimately affected their speech and writing patterns.For Kingston it was the tradition of binding the feet so as to prevent a woman from running away when she was given no option or recourse when she was given in marriage. Also the tradition of being totally covered until the night the wedding was consummated created a barrier in the minds of all women from her culture. Since in both cultures women had a hard life, it should come as no surprise that the inevitable would happen. These traditions served as a symbol of slavery and bondage.Alvarez uses symbolism in a different fashion and this comes to light when she sought her favorite fruit upon her return home. This represented a desire in her to come home to the life she knew the best. The very idea that she would go to another country and give up everything she has as a native Dominican was seen as insanity. However, when encountering people outside of her home she realizes she is a better communicator to English speaking people. She pretends to not know any Spanish when encountering the boys during her trip to find guavas because she is fearful of what they might do to her as a home town girl out after dark.In the context of How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents one cannot truly say that they suffered a great deal of hardship in the transition from the Dominican Republic. There is more of a story to be told about these four women in regards to the resources they could have at their disposal at home. Education was one reason they explored a new world, and the only difference they really encountered was more on a communication level than anything else.Language is born out of necessity. Each language existing today has its spin-offs within the culture itself and has the potential of creating a whole new language within itself. While in college Yolanda had some bad experiences with abusive language from men she would encounter. This gave her a feeling of uneasiness and fear of what interacting with these men might bring her way. Language played a key role in Yolanda’s life and even became the reason for the divorce from her husband, John. As long as she thought she was in love with him she could deal with the communication barrier. These barriers, though, encompassed more than just speaking, they covered the entire cultural package that made Yolanda who she was.Kingston felt much the same way. With her story beginning with “You must not tell anyone!” she courageously faces the inevitable future that women would face who wanted to be free from the bondage of her native culture. Even so, and even to day, Chinese immigrants are found to be very secretive of their family history in an effort to start fresh and new in America. Cultural boundaries will always be a factor in any immigrant’s life in America. Some communities will be more forgiving than others as they view the foreign cultures in action within their communities.With the Garcia girls learning to lose their accents and speak fluent English, Kingston’s method of speaking is one of writing. She has written some well known stories and has even been accused of changing some of the myths used in articulating Chinese history to suit her needs, but she is still a voice crying from Chinese culture to be heard and only desires she be given a fair chance to share her story as it relates to Chinese Americans.In conclusion, the two accounts of cultural changes faced by women are expressed in innovative fashion. They both are to be commended for their courage in the face of change. It has been said that some are so set in their (cultural) ways that when the tide comes in they will drown. These two women are a breath of fresh air for their honesty and portrayal of cultural differences and how they can be integrated into life where ever it may chose to reside.The turning point with Alvarez is her family coming to America and how that affected family ties and even their sanity. The hardships endured may not have been one of poverty, but they were devastating nonetheless. Because, however, their determination was to be freed from the bondage of living in the Dominican Republic, their story has significant repercussions and speaks of trials any immigrant can expect to encounter when fleeing from what they deem as oppression. What ever the reason for coming to America, as it was portrayed in Alvarez’s account, the need to be free from any oppression is stronger than the conflicts that arise during the transition.For Kingston, who was told not to tell anyone, to have written all she has about the cultural barriers that would keep women in bondage is heroic. She portrays the story of freedom as something any woman can experience if they find the courage to launch out from the barriers that hold them captive. Given the particulars of family lineage and the stories that are described as the encountering of the culture, Kingston breaks all the rules to be sure her story reaches people who need to hear and experience that change.The fact that Kingston takes on the role of Fa Mu Lan, the woman warrior, speaks of her inclination to break tradition. It is against Chinese tradition for a woman to do the work of a man. The fact that she would go so far as to portray herself as a Chinese warrior, and a woman too, speaks to all women who have either fought for rights in the past or are currently in the battle for the rights of women everywhere, but especially in China. 

Post Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


I'm Tamara!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out