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Bound Feet and Western Dress by Pang-Mei Chang

Strength in Numbers A need for both socialization and a sense of identity forge tight community bonds that many maintain throughout their life. Their life may center on religion, race, or even the socioeconomic class to which they belong. Communities reflect these aspects by grouping together individuals in similar situations and beliefs. Pang-Mei Natasha Chang’s Bound Feet & Western Dress expresses the importance of tradition and culture in community identification by detailing the life of the conventional Chang Yu-i and her relationship with a westernized Hsü Chih-mo. Susanna Kaysen depicts her personal struggles with finding the community that she belongs to in Girl, Interrupted. Both Yu-i and Kaysen learn that community is not assigned, rather it is chosen by a self motivated individual wanting inclusion. Community is formed from a group of people with similar goals and beliefs who obtain identity and strength in numbers. The member is forever bound to his or her community thus preserving the ideals in association which makes finding a new identity is impossible. The effect a community has on its constituents is profound in that it governs the way one looks at the world. A community is comprised of a group of goal oriented individuals with similar beliefs and expectations. Currently the term is used interchangeably with society, the town one lives in and even religion. A less shallow interpretation suggests that community embodies a lifestyle unique to its members. Similarities within the group establish bonds along with ideals, values, and strength in numbers unknown to an individual. Ideals and values ultimately impose the culture that the constituents abide by. By becoming part of a community, socialization... ... middle of paper ... ...values, practices, ideals, expectations and self image joining together in order to achieve a common goal. In Yu-i’s case, the traditional Chinese community wanted to maintain ancient practices, while western oriented Chinese adults wanted to modernize the country and make it similar to the United States and Britain. In Kaysen’s case, abnormal behavior in communities resulted in admittance into the community of the mentally ill. The psychologically disturbed community wanted only to fit in, while the sane community decided that they were threats to society. Both Yu-i and Kaysen physically leave their group only to find that the community ideals have only made them better people. Works Cited Chang, Pang-Mei Natasha. Bound Feet and Western Dress. New York: Anchor Books, 1997. Print. Kaysen, Susanna. Girl, Interrupted. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. Print.

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