This essay explores the proccess of assimilating into the American society after a famiy moves to the USA from China in "In The American Society", by Gish Jen. It also explores the irony in the title of the piece.
"In The American Society", by Gish Jen, is a lurid portrayal of an Asian-American family who immigrated to the United States--addressing both the struggles and fortunes that America's opportunities have offered the family as they leave their old life in China. Now, the father must make something of himself and his family, in a time when America meant vast possibilities, but also being labeled as a foreigner. The mother in the story smugly declares, " 'But this is the U-S-of-A!' "(542), proclaiming her pride in the opportunities accessible in her new home. Though, as the family begins to assimilate into the "American society", they find that while success brings them respect and affluence, it may not automatically make them fit into the new culture.
The title itself is a direct inference to the transformation the family is forced to undergo.
The first half of the story is suitably entitled "His Own Society", describing the family's journey towards coming to terms with the American society. When the mother is thinking of joining the country club she states, " 'Your father doesn't believe in joining the American Society. He wants to have his own society' "(542). This line echoes the ever-present theme in the story of assimilation, and the father's hesitation with adjustment. For people who come from cultures that are significantly different from the freethinking America, the process of acculturation can be awkward and even caustic. In the story, the father opens his own pancake house, and the family begins to encounter success. They then attempt to fit into...