A mother drives her three kids to soccer practice in a Ford minivan while her husband stays at the office, rushing to finish a report. Meanwhile, a young woman prays her son makes his way home from the local grocery without getting held up at knife point by the local gang. Nearby, an immigrant finishes another 14-hour shift at the auto parts factory, trying to provide for his wife and child, struggling to make way in a new land. Later, a city girl hails a cab to meet her girlfriends at their favorite club to celebrate her new promotion over cosmopolitans. These people – the suburban soccer mom, the tired immigrant, the worried mother from the hood, and the successful city girl – each represent the different realities or fantasies that exist in the American society. They are all living or working towards what they believe to be the coveted American dream. Some of these people are similar to the Chinese immigrant, Ralph, in Gish Jen’s novel Typical American. However, all are confused as to what the American dream really is and whether or not the dream is real.
Ralph embarks for America not knowing “where or what America is,” but almost immediately upon his arrival in the United States he is confronted with the realities of being a Chinese immigrant (Jen 3). Spotting the coastline at the end of his voyage across the Pacific, Ralph is entranced with the Golden Gate Bridge; “That splendor! That radiance...an image of freedom, and hope” (Jen 7). Furthermore, upon his arrival in New York City, Ralph notes that “the idea of city still gleamed then…a place that promised to be recalled as an era…He was awed…the mundane details of life impressed him too…only he saw these things” (Jen 8). Ralph'...
... middle of paper ...
...many realities that exist within America's society and that most do not fit the typical American dream. Even those people that achieve some measure of success, as Ralph did, are often plagued by personal problems that outweigh any measure of wealth or reputation. The lie of the American dream is that it promises to fix humanity's problems with material gain – it promises happiness from things that are not capable of giving it. And so, followers are all left unfulfilled by the great American dream, left with a reality that is much different than what was so easily guaranteed. The reality that everyone experiences, whether it is the suburban soccer mom or the tired immigrant, is that the dream is mostly unachievable. The reality we think exists is only a myth – a true mythological reality.
Jen, Gish. Typical American. New York: Penguin Group, 1992.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Gish Jen’s novel Typical American A mother drives her three kids to soccer practice in a Ford minivan while her husband stays at the office, rushing to finish a report. Meanwhile, a young woman prays her son makes his way home from the local grocery without getting held up at knife point by the local gang. Nearby, an immigrant finishes another 14-hour shift at the auto parts factory, trying to provide for his wife and child, struggling to make way in a new land. Later, a city girl hails a cab to meet her girlfriends at their favorite club to celebrate her new promotion over cosmopolitans.... [tags: Jen Typical American Novel Analysis]
1268 words (3.6 pages)
- Typical American by Gish Jen The book Typical American by Gish Jen is a detailed account of a one, Ralph Chang’s life before he comes to America to chase his dream and after his arrival, the friends he makes and his struggles and achievements. Ralph and Grover are two main characters in the book and they are seen to have many differences but they have one main and major similarity which is their greed for money and their selfless desire to achieve the American dream. Ralph was a person who believed in hard work and always doing the right thing before he meets with Grover.... [tags: money, honesty, chinese immigrant]
891 words (2.5 pages)
- Gish Jen’s “Who’s Irish” is a story of a Chinese family in America and narrated by a sixty eight year old Chinese Immigrant. Speaking in “broken English” the grandmother is keen to narrate the events surrounding her daughter, her granddaughter and her son-in-law who is Irish. The story tells of how a woman’s granddaughter is growing up in a different way than how she raised her daughter, which brings conflict between the two, mother and daughter. It mainly takes place in the park or the home of the daughter.... [tags: Family, Mother, Nuclear family, Father]
1197 words (3.4 pages)
- Exploration of the Typical American Typical American by Gish Jen demonstrates the different struggles that a traditional immigrant family encounters. The book being discussed will be explained by means of historical influences and biographical influences during Jen’s life that affected the novel. This essay will also contain a critical analysis of the book and an analysis of the critical response from others. Yifeng Chang, who later Americanized his name by changing it to Ralph, left behind his father, mother, and older sister in Shanghai.... [tags: China, United States, Overseas Chinese]
1543 words (4.4 pages)
- The video, Novel Reflections on the American Dream, begins by telling the viewer about the aspect of the American Dream. The American Dream is all about possibilities, freedom, and living the life you desire. The first and most memorable written form of the American Dream was in Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. The video then proceeds to tell about all the novels that have been written about different aspects of different authors’ American Dream experiences, and their search for possibility and freedom.... [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby]
750 words (2.1 pages)
- Gish Jen’s In the American Society is, on the surface, an entertaining look into the workings of a Chinese American family making their way in America. The reader is introduced to the life of a Chinese American restaurant owner and his family through the eyes of his American-born daughter. When we examine the work in depth, however, we discover that Jen is addressing how traditional Chinese values work in American culture. She touches on the difference in gender roles, generation gaps between immigrants and their American-born children, and the hesitance of these immigrants to conform to the American way of life.... [tags: Gish Jen]
1242 words (3.5 pages)
- Gish Jen’s story titled Who’s Irish is a story about a chinese grandmother who was struggling to adapt to a different culture. Throughout the story, the grandmother’s perception and understanding conflicted with that of her daughter, Natalie, her son-in-law, John Shae, and, her granddaughter, Sophie. The narrator is a Chinese Grandmother who was nameless and spoke in the first person point of view. When the Grandmother first immigrated to the United States along with her daughter and her husband (who passed away,) she found success through her restaurant.... [tags: Family, United States, Culture, Chinese language]
999 words (2.9 pages)
- Gish Jen’s “Who’s Irish” tells the story of a sixty-eight-year-old Chinese immigrant and her struggle to accept other cultures different from her own. The protagonist has been living in the United States for a while but she is still critical of other cultures and ethnicities, such as her son-in-law’s Irish family and the American values in which her daughter insists on applying while raising the protagonist’s granddaughter. The main character finds it very hard to accept the American way of disciplining and decides to implement her own measures when babysitting her granddaughter Sophie.... [tags: essays research papers]
537 words (1.5 pages)
- Conflicting Cultures in Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land Novels that illustrate a confrontation between disparate cultures provide particularly straightforward insights into basic human behavior. Characters confronted with a cultural conflict must explore basic human commonalities to breach the gap between the cultures. In doing so, one diminishes the differences between her culture and the unknown culture, ultimately bringing her closer to her raw humanity.... [tags: Mona Promised Land Essays]
2197 words (6.3 pages)
- Chinese and American Cultures Chinese-Americans authors Amy Tan and Gish Jen have both grappled with the idea of mixed identity in America. For them, a generational problem develops over time, and cultural displacement occurs as family lines expand. While this is not the problem in and of itself, indeed, it is natural for current culture to gain foothold over distant culture, it serves as the backdrop for the disorientation that occurs between generations. In their novels, Tan and Jen pinpoint the cause of this unbalance in the active dismissal of Chinese mothers by their Chinese-American children.... [tags: Culture Cultural Tan Jen Essays]
4366 words (12.5 pages)