Intercultural Marriage

1024 Words5 Pages
Caroline Hwang made the point in her essay "The Good Daughter" that as a first generation American her parents expected her to marry a Korean man. Hwang decided to only date the non-Korean men which she knew she could "stay clearheaded about” so she could fulfill her parent’s wishes and bear children that looked Korean.
In the essay “Your Place is Empty" by Anne Tyler the decision to marry within cultural boundaries was not made. Hassan (a young doctor who took up practice in America) decided to marry Elizabeth (a very American girl). Hassan’s mother decides to take a trip to America and stay as a house guest. The cultural gap between Mrs. Ardavi and Elizabeth as mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and their interactions seemed to be one of the main points of the essay. Certain beliefs and behaviors separated them all from each other.
The beliefs and behaviors that marked Mrs. Ardavi as a foreigner in America were also on some occasions cause for disagreement. Elizabeth tried to be hospitable to her mother-in-law and Hassan was the middle ground for the two. Some of the differences were easy to dismiss as cultural difference and simply worked around. Yet some of the differences were harder to work around. Some commonalties were found and seemed to become the basis of their relationship.
Some of Mrs. Ardavi’s beliefs were common in Iranian culture but not seen in American culture. Beliefs in medals, prayers, and other superstitions are a part of Mrs. Ardavi’s daily life. Although Elizabeth is coming from an American perspective she seemed to be more understanding. She showed this by allowing her mother-in-law to put tiny “medals” on Hilary, including a tiny disc “inscribed with the name of Allah” and “a tiny gold Koran, with a very effective prayer for long life folded up within it.” Elizabeth also conspired with Mrs. Ardavi to hide a miniature Koran inside the glove compartment of Hassan’s car. Even though the cultural difference was a factor this seems to show that there are certain commonalities in their personalities and beliefs between most cultures.
In Mrs. Ardavi's beliefs there is such a thing as clean and unclean. As a simple example bacon is an unclean food in the Muslim religion. Though she was not allowed to eat it Mrs. Ardavi was still curious about the taste of bacon. Mrs. Ardavi separated hersel...

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...rdavi felt that Americans were very wasteful when just walking around the house, when a simple housecoat was appropriate. In public Mrs. Ardavi always wore her kerchief which was the only reminder of the veil she once wore. She only shed her kerchief once "in a sudden fit of daring" at a Christmas party. This demonstrated that clothing can be very important as a part of social connections and part of cultural connections. Among the gifts for Elizabeth and Hilary mentioned in the beginning is included for Hilary “a doll dressed in the complicated costume of a nomad tribe, and an embroidered sheepskin vest”; for Elizabeth she included gold jewelry.
All kinds of examples were given in “Your Place is Empty” that could show the problems that could arise with an intercultural marriage. The problems may not be within the couple, but with family members. This is the situation which Caroline Hwang was trying to avoid by marrying a man from her own culture, even though she is an American. She didn’t want to marry a non-Korean so that there would be no cultural issues to deal with. The differences seemed to be too much to deal with for her situation.
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