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Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen Literature Analysis Essay

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2020

Every culture has its own unique and distinct tradition which is a trademark of identification of every nation. Immigrates are away from their lands and tradition, they face cultural influences that are enforced by external environment. This essay paper analyzes immigrates experiencing cultural adaptation of Stealing Buddha dinner written by Bich Minh Nguyen. In the book author has mentioned her experiences as an immigrant and cultural adaptation that makes her feel more like natives.

Stealing Buddha dinner beautifully interprets experiences of immigrants adapting other cultures for overcoming the discriminations and has several aspects to be discussed. Food is trademark representation of every culture, highlight of this paper shall discuss the turmoil of Nguyen for knowing her denotation of cultural food that rather represented her in satisfying her internal confusion with his own identity with the references to the original text in order to provide better understanding.

American Meat: False claims satisfying internal identity

Nguyen family immigrate Vietnam and settled in Grand Rapids they lived hand-to-mouth, in a small sludgy apartment. Analyzing her situations and conditions and comparing living standard with her friend Holly Jansen. Contrary, Bich exerts to find similar ground of the natives of Grand Rapids. After choosing the food that was eaten by the native, she finds herself cozy and satisfying resembling with their mind sets and traditions.

Though, Grandmother Noi feed Bich with the bite-sized pieces; consequently, she had no idea about American Meat but pretended as is she knows. “If the girls at the recess talked about these thing that they had eaten the night before I would simple chime in, ‘me too’” (Nguyen 85) reflecting the quote we can determine, that Bich pretended familiarizing with American Meat but in reality she never had idea about it. Bich was fascinated to the interacting environment, in order to attain similar coinciding grounds.

“I would have invited her to my house. I didn’t have my own room, for one thing. And I was afraid, both of how my family would act around Holly and how she would react to being around them” (Nguyen 85) according to the qoute w can assume how Bich tried to find familiar grounds of eating tradition enthralled this little girl, she found it herself internal satisfied because according to her consciousness this act of hers might make her more like her friend Holly Jansen.

Separate room of Holly was a mutual influence to Bich, whereas, she didn’t own her separate room and had to share it with her family. She had already experienced one of her friend straying from the Buddha altars at her place, according to her the live standard they were living were inferior comparatively to her mates.

For acquiring the similar grounds, Bich always seek for similar ground that linked her to the friend’s identity. According to the above mentioned quote we can analysis the confusion that Bich faced while interacting within her school’s friends circles and finds her comfortable even after making false claims.

Humiliation on the dinner table

Bich was an innocent immigrate who was far away from her mother, when she was only eight months, because of being away from her mother; she lacked consciousness in several phases of her life. After the trip to cinema with Tara’s family, it was a wonderful and exciting experience having pop-corns, M&M and her mother singing along with the Disney songs rapt the baby girl, all the glittery and beautiful Tara’s house seemed like a fairly land to her, as she was an immigrant she have had never been through such trips.

Bich had a lot experiences throughout, one of the humiliation she experienced when she was at her friend’s place Tara on the dinner table. Bich have had never come across a noodle plate like she discovered at Tara’s place. When the dinner arrived she took the fork and began to eat, Tara’s mother interrupted and said to Bich, “We pray before we eat” (Nguyen 120) this situation was degrading for Bich.

As she arrived home, she asked demanded her step mother to tell her the behaviors, rather than guiding her step mother neglected her saying “Well, it’s not what poor people get the eat” (Nguyen 120) and further when Bich emphasized her to tell manners, she answered her in a very weird manner saying “Don’t you know you are not supposed to sit there? Don’t you know you’re not supposed to wait until other people start eating?” (Nguyen 120).

Rather than correcting Bich step mother blamed her that she was a refugee and this fancy food is not for refugees like her. According to the context, we can assume the way Bich was mortified as she was not aware of the table manners because she didn’t have an ancestor to guide her for the table manner. Through this situation we can analysis the importance of food as an identification of one’s cultural identity, only lack on the table manners can turnout a situation into a humiliation and how can one be assumed with the table manners.

These situation and answers of her step mother enforced indirect pressure which developed a consciousness that she was inferior and reminded her that she was inferior. After coming across these situations the consciousness of Bich developed that she was inferior and the people around her were right, due to her immature approach and lack of guidance Bich tried to adapt all the possible things that were around her.

Due to the lack of supervision deciding what was right and wrong didn’t mattered, she tried to collect all the gems that surrounded her, she tried to adapt all the possible ways in order to gain her identity, where people treated immigrants with discrimination.

According to the circumstances of the text, we can analysis the behavior of Bich stepmother; her weird answers to Bich enforced her to believe that her every act was erroneous. The dinner interruption and embarrassment developed importance of food traditions in view of Bich, she thought choosing and eating food like others can supper her turmoil and confusion by providing similar grounds, she felt comfortable and indiscriminate.

According to the circumstances of the above quotes and context, we can conclude the importance of Food, every traditional has a distinctive patterns which reflects one’s cultural and traditional identity. Though Bich was an immigrant from Vietnam who always treated as discriminatively, because of lack of consciousness and supervision she drawn towards everything matching her mind sets.

According to the above discussion, we can analyze the glittering fantasizes diverted the consciousness of Bich towards adaptation of the food traditions of the natives. Observing the lifestyles of her friend and comparing it to her lifestyle made her upset and depressed, she felt that she belonged to inferior grounds by adapting the their food styles, she felt herself more satisfied and she felt more relaxed and comfortable.

According the context of this paper, we can also conclude the behavior of her step mother who didn’t guided Bich for the appropriate ways but made her feel mediocre. A girl who was separated from her mother in an infant age without any acknowledgment of her traditions had no other option left in the city of strangers, by the alteration of their culture and right food she felt herself more gratifying in developing her own gratitude and identity.

Works Cited

Nguyen, B. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner. New York: Penguin, 2008.

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