Essay on Suffering and Assimilation

Essay on Suffering and Assimilation

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One of the recurring themes that shows up in the literature written by African Americans and Mexican Americans seems to be the suffering of the past and present along with not much hope for the future. The pains expressed by these people are related to race, poverty, violence, and lack of opportunity. Another recurring theme is the minorities assimilation into the white society. Minorities have always been socially pressured to assimilate into the society in which they live. They are subtly encouraged in the United States to become a part, "The American Dream." These two themes can be seen in, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, "Sonny's Blues," by James Baldwin and even the real life of Jean Toomer, a famous writer.

In "Sonny's Blues" the main theme is the suffering of black people in America. The death of Sonny's uncle being killed by a white drunk driver symbolizes the pervasive persecution of black people by whites. The whole family suffers in some way, whether it is the mother feeling extreme sorrow for Sonny or his father tormented by the memory of his brothers painful death and his hatred of white people because of it. The narrator, who never reveals his name suffers in his own particular way. He has his own "Blues" in a way, and he sees darkness everywhere. He imagines his students shooting up heroin in between classes. He says, "Their laughter . . . was not the joyous laughter which God knows why one associates with children." Obviously he doesn't believe being a child has much joy. Sonny escapes the harsh realities of life in Harlem, by escaping through the drug heroin for temporary relief, even though he knows it will kill him. Music to him is freedom from these blues of everyday life. The story s...


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...d some form of suffering relating to where they come from, what they look like, or even just the social suffering of trying to fit into the image society has of people. I know for most girls it has been social, they see magazines, models, etc. and want to look like them. I cannot count how many girls I have known who have been borderline anorexic or bulimic so they can fit into society's image of perfection. Assimilating into society, or even a clique at school is something everyone can relate to. Everyone feels the need to be accepted, that is human nature. Gangs, sororities, fraternities, are all started for that specific reason so people can feel the belonging and acceptance of a group. While issues of assimilation and suffering are not unique to African Americans and Mexican Americans, they certainly dwarf those faced by members of traditional white society.

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