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Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen’s “Typical American” Essay

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When Yifeng Chang first arrives in the US, he has left behind him a pair of anxious parents to come and study engineering. The process of uprooting himself from China and rerooting himself in the US is hypothetically completed in his case by the first thing he does when he arrives at the school. He looks for an American name and asks the students’ foreign affairs secretary to help him to get one. He sheds off his Chinese name and starts a new life in the US as Ralph, trying to root himself into a society that is radically different from his own. He awkwardly falls in love with the secretary and commences a journey to Americanize himself while at the same time living in fear. This is because he forgets to renew his visa. Thus, he fears being taken back home to Manchuria, where the communist government has taken over, and his parents are missing.

In his quest for a better life both for himself and his family, he has a set of six goals. Some of the goals are to cultivate virtue, honor his family, and avoid falling into temptations of women. He soon, however, realizes that rerooting himself in a new county is not as easy as he had imagined since he feels completely alone, especially after the communist takeover sundered his connections with his parents. This is a common challenge that faces many immigrants, and they have to uproot themselves from their dominant cultures and reroot in new western beliefs and customs. This process is often complicated and challenging, especially since they are often isolated from the larger community. He is rescued from despair when he miraculously finds his sister. She introduces him to her friend, who later becomes his wife. After the acquisition of his newfound social capital, Ralph gets his life back on track and completes college all through while transforming himself into a typical American. Although he had initially been skeptical of the American dream, he gradually embodies it after he completes his doctorate. He becomes a tenured professor, buys a home, and has two daughters. However, in the process of realizing this dream, he and his family gradually abandon their Chinese values and beliefs.

Still in pursuit of the much-touted ‘American independence and entrepreneurship,’ he abandons his career to start a take-away chicken business after being persuaded by his friend Grover Ding Shady, a billionaire businessperson. This results in a short-lived success that ultimately becomes the ruin of his financial stability and nearly tears his family apart. The family structure, which is possibly the only union characterized by Chinese virtue, is destroyed beyond hope or repair. He abuses his freedom that made him not to realize his dreams in America.

In conclusion, as Bharati Mukherjee explains, most of the immigrants to American will try to do whatever it takes to adopt the new culture. However, these changes are two-sided since they will also have some effects on the appearance and psychological makeup of the US. The impact of a Chinese enterprise is underscored in the narration. However, in this case, the attempt by Ralph to open a ‘Chinese shop’ failed. The fact that there are so many of these in the US is evidence that Chinese immigrants have had a profound impact on America’s businesses and even culinary habits.

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IvyPanda. (2021, April 9). Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen's "Typical American". Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/immigrant-yifeng-chang-in-jens-typical-american/

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"Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen's "Typical American"." IvyPanda, 9 Apr. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/immigrant-yifeng-chang-in-jens-typical-american/.

1. IvyPanda. "Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen's "Typical American"." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/immigrant-yifeng-chang-in-jens-typical-american/.


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IvyPanda. "Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen's "Typical American"." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/immigrant-yifeng-chang-in-jens-typical-american/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen's "Typical American"." April 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/immigrant-yifeng-chang-in-jens-typical-american/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Immigrant Yifeng Chang in Jen's "Typical American"'. 9 April.

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