The Immigrant Experience: The Anguish of Becoming American
Immigration from the Early 1990's still affects America today. The people who came to America from different countries brought their traditions, their families, and their culture. These three things stuck with them through thick and thin and are still thriving parts of what America is today. Many immigrants came with literally nothing in their pockets and had to work their way to success. The Immigrant Experience by Thomas Wheeler tells the story of nine different immigrants' trials and tribulations of coming and living in America. Each immigrant went through different experiences of becoming American but they also had their ...view middle of the document...
Not all of the immigrants owned their own business. Harry Roskolenko's (Jewish) father worked in a sweat shop. This not only physically made it harder for the family but, in his father's old age, it mentally broke him down as well.
Money was only one of many factors that affected immigrants coming to America. Most of the families had to steal food so that the family could have a sufficient dinner. Mario Puzo was in one of the families who stole food so they could eat. His uncle would bring home eggs from his work so they would have a little extra to eat each night.
Also, without money you could not acquire a membership to the local library, therefore immigrants had a hard time finding books to read. Some immigrants did not need money and started in America with just a hole in the ground. Eugene Boe, a Norwegian, came to America to become a farmer. He headed for the west and claimed land. He completed his American dream without working in a city. He had to work in a small village to get enough money to get seed and things he needed, but after that his blood and sweat went into his riches.
Money was not the only thing that played a role in the assimilation of immigrants. Each immigrant brought their own religion and traditions to America. A lot of immigrants looked to God for a hope that they will some day be out of the oppression and poverty. John Williams, who was black, went to church every Sunday and calls church "more than just a worshiping place" (Wheeler, Pg. 137). He talks about how it was a place where "the immigrant renewed himself as a member of the group, where traditions of the group were reinforced, where shelter was found from the storm" (Wheeler, Pg. 137). Harry Roskolenko's family was heavily tied to God. He says his mother's only hope was in God and heaven. He says "We had one purpose--to go to God. All our words were God-graced, and we were humble as we prayed and sang about the
glories of the Lord on Cherry Street" (Wheeler, Pg. 155). Immigrant were so inferior in society and so put down that they had to find some way to uplift themselves and find meaning, so they turned to God.
Each immigrant in the book became so successful because he or she had ambition. Jack Agueros, a Puerto Rican, talks about how he wanted to become a doctor. He attended high school (which was far in education back in those days) even though all his friends around him dropped out. He had ambition. Czeslaw Milosz didn't talk much about his experience but talked about America in general and came off very ambitious to the reader. His ambition came off strong and confident through his words. All the immigrants had these characteristics. Jade Wong went against her parents to become a ceramist. She kept at her school work even though she had little money and the doubt of her parents. She had ambition. The simple fact that these people took the money and effort to get to America proves that they had the ambition to do so. They longed to...