English 10 Honors
September 24, 2014
Being a Better Person through Multiple Cultures
When teenagers are in their coming of age, they become extremely sensitive and care more about their inner world. At this period of time, teenagers especially desire absolutely strong spiritual supports, such as the sense of belonging and identification. In the Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Mona in the Promised Land, the authors Sherman Alexie and Gish Jen present two stories of adolescents who seek their positions in diverse culture through trying to figure out who they are and persisting in the pursuit of freedom and hope. Junior goes from seeing himself as a incomplete person to seeing himself as a many faceted individual who is not constrained by anything but rather set free to chase all of his dream. Even though the inner culture conflict beset Junior, he still makes efforts to gain acceptance from society and has a better understanding of his own. When Junior just transferred to the white school Reardan, he said, " I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. It was like being Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn't pay well at all " (Alexie 118). It shows Junior's confusion of not knowing which group of people he belongs to as long as he lives in the reservation yet he studies in the white community. He eagers to escape the impoverished reservation which is full of alcoholism and violence. However, reservation is his hometown. His families, friends, and past take root in reservation. The word " part-time" which also appears in the title of the book not only suggests that he sometimes stays at home and sometimes stays in the school physically, but also means the Indian is an identity he can't abandon on the path of pursuing better life. At the celebration of Junior's dead grandmother, he suddenly comes to realize the true value of himself. In tears, he said: "I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to the tribe. But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants. And to the tribe of basketball players. And to the tribe of bookworms .And the tribe of cartoonists. And the tribe of chronic masturbators. And the tribe of teenage boys. And the tribe of small-town kids. …And the tribe of poverty "(Alexie 217). He no longer separates being an America and an Indian. When Junior brought the strength of Indians to carry on, the reservation and Junior accept each other mutually. When he bonds with his Indian family while he makes white friends, there is no boundary between reservation and hope. Furthermore, Junior is a competent basketball player and a thinker who loves reading books. These good qualities used to be hidden under the shadow of the inferiority. Until one day ,After the death of his sister, grandma and a family friend, Junior developed a stronger and mature mind. He naturally admitted his unchangeable racial identity and the poverty situation he had rather than conceal it. His acknowledgement also shows his ambition to change his current situation. As he comes of age, he clearly realizes all the stains of his Indian culture. Keeping in touch with another culture illuminates his future and prevents him from abandoning himself and expressing hatred blindly. In Mona in the Promised Land, the main character Mona gets a firm faith by knowing the difference between cultures. As the first generation of Chinese-American, Mona unremittingly chases after the freedom in the promised land. In terms of her own religious belief and race problems, she argued with her mom several times:
"It's a free country, I can talk however I want."
"Free country! Right! In this house, no such thing!"
Mona social analysis:" That's exactly the problem! Everywhere else is America, but in this house it's China!"
"That's right! No America here! In this house, children listen to parents"( Jen 250). Helen, Mona's mother, has always been discontented…