Cultural diversity has always been a serious obstacle for people to overcome because it is primarily based on the difference in moral standards, and principles of general behavior and traditions. The impact of cultural bans is brightly illustrated in the stories presented for analysis.
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Both literary works – “Tito’s Good Bye” and “In the Land of Free” – unveil the hardships the people should overcome when living in a host country. Hence, the first story, “Tito’s Good Bye” written by Garcia, narrates about two important periods of the protagonist’s life – the deplorable present and happy life in the past.
The second story is about the changes that occurred right after the heroes return to the free and wealthy United States. Both stories depict the adversities that immigrants have to overcome to adjust to life in America as well the way social and physical environment hampers their accommodation to new culture and people. Despite the differences in the plot, the stories’ characters move to America in the quest of better life, but face frustration and disappointment instead.
In Garcia’s “Tito’s Good Bye”, the main character is forced from Cuba to the United States because of the rise of communism. The story starts with news about Tito Urena’s death from heart attack in his office. From the very beginning, the author provides a thorough description of Tito’s present life including the place he worked, the people he communicated with and the attitude he had towards other people, which emphasizes some notes of pessimism. Special consideration should be given to the description of the place where Tito’s worked in New York, “a squalid room over a vegetable market in Little Italy” (Garcia 159).
This place could be the reflection of Tito’s feelings. He was suppressed and even miserable. He was lonely in his “squalid room” and in his life. He lost everything he had, but failed to succeed in his new life. On the other hand, “In the Land of Free” begins positively where the main characters – a Chinese American couple – move to America hoping that this country will bring peace and happiness to their lives.
This is shown by the descriptions and attitudes revealed in the beginning of the story: “there is thy home for years to come. It is very beautiful and thou wilt be very happy there” (Far 148). Lae Choo was glad to bring her child to their American house. She believed that the country which became their second homeland would welcome their little boy as well. But further, the couple’s opinion dramatically changes and they get more frustrated and hopeless when facing people’s cruelty and indifference.
The plots are largely based on the contrasts. The Sui Sin Far’s heroes are first delighted and blinded by the atmosphere of happiness, but further the illusions fade away with all hopes for a better life. Thus, the country which gave them a new life took away the most precious. In fact, the government took away their lives since their son was the sense of their lives.
The same is revealed in the second story where description of death is intertwined with flashbacks to a happy past. The main character suffers because of the great pain and he even has no opportunity to think of all good in his life. Only Garcia contemplates on those bright things that happened in Tito’s life which could smooth his last minutes. However, Tito is deprived of such relief; his last minutes are hollow and painful, just like his new life.
Referring to the analysis of physical environment, it should be stressed the protagonists from both stories feel a considerable pressure from the surrounding world reminding them of their ethnic origins. In the first story, the physical environment relevantly emphasizes transformation of Tito’s character. Tito’s office is not far from the court, but far from his family. All his life passes in front of his desk but it is not with his close relatives. His work becomes the sense of his life because he starts working there spending all day long there.
Tito’s death in office also seems logical, therefore. This shows to what extent the hero is separated from his family. He dies of heart attack, the most painful death as many doctors admit. Thus, he suffers greatly physically. Of course, this is the last cut down which he has to pass. Besides, such death also symbolizes his relationship with his family. His heart is torn, just like family relationship. The second story also deals with hostility of new circumstances; a Chinese couple faces bureaucratic obstacles after Lae Choo delivers a baby.
In California, the place where the ratio of immigrants is the biggest one, the indigenous population expresses its hostile attitude to them. Hom Hing, a thriving merchant, had great expectations and believed that he would be prosperous and happy with his family in America. However, later the young family faces a lot of disappointments. They witness that the most obvious things need documental confirmation. They see that even if they have already gained some respectful position they are still reminded that they are new-comers.
Of course, these Chinese people understand that the system may have such flaws. But they could not accept the human indifference which is revealed with the help of the young American lawyer. The story proves that cultural difference influences people’s attitude, particularly in the time of colonialism.
The social environment is explicitly revealed in Sui Sin Far’s narration who manages to depict the social interaction between different cultural groups. From the very beginning, we see the hostility of police officers who are reluctant to let Lae Choo, Hing’s wife, to pass the boarder with the newborn child because they do not have the necessary certificate which is an official permission for a child to come to the country.
The life in America of the Chinese family gets worse as some people are eager to take advantage of them revealing no respect and dignity. In particular, a lawyer James Clancy who is supposed to assist this family tries to cheat them and to get his money. He brings only some documents which, however, cannot bring their child to the family. Thus, the lawyer says he needs money to go to Washington and finally bring the necessary certificate. Desperate mother agrees to give him the necessary sum (which is quite big).
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Of course, they do not have such money so Lae Choo gives away almost all of her jewelry. In fact, she is eager to give everything to bring her little boy back to her. Thus, instead of building a prosperous future, the Chinese merchant loses all his welfare together with the lost hope for a happy life. The second story discloses Tito’s conscious desire to be detached from his family. Hence, New York of that period witnessed many illegal immigrants with whom Tito had to work.
However, absorption with material welfare made him more indifferent to other people’s problems. The problem is aggravated because, like those people, Tito was also an immigrant, but he betrayed his roots for the sake of personal well-being. Perhaps, the loss of cultural roots and awareness was connected with his movement to New York. Both characters, Tito, a lawyer, and Hom Hing, a Californian merchant, have to face aggression on the part of the native population revealing their explicit hatred and condemnation to ethnic minorities and other cultures.
In conclusion, both stories are examples of how cultural changes can negatively influence people’s lives. They disclose the hardships that the cultural groups have to face. However, unfavorable social and physical settings hinder their adjustment to the new culture and customs. Struggling for a better life, both, Tito and Hing, meet reluctance and misunderstanding on the part of the new country.
In order to enhance the readers’ impression about the periods those heroes lived in, the authors provide the description of place and circumstances under which they had to move to “a free land”. However, the allusion of happy life just remains unrealized because immigrants fail to abandon their cultural roots believing that they deserve respect and recognition. One way or another, both stories have pessimistic endings, which prove people’s reluctance to be tolerant to other cultural identities.
Far, Sui Sin. In the Land of Three. Guidelines: A Cross-Cultural Reading/Writing Text. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.
Garcia, Cristina. Tito’s Good Bye. Guidelines: A Cross-Cultural Reading/Writing Text. UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.