Monkey Bridge is the story of the transition that most immigrant families go through and the trials of fitting the American Society and Dream. Mai and her mother go through many stages of conflict due to the new environment they live in, her mother's hopes for a new life and adapting to the American life. Monkey Bridge is a classic because of its literary value, its contrast between the Vietnamese ideals and the American Dream and the symbolism of cultures and their differences.
The Monkey Bridge symbolizes the weak yet strong link to America. One of the most prevalent reasons why this book is a classic is because it shows America and its "glory"Ã¯Â¿Â½ from the perspective of a Vietnamese fleeing from war. America is symbolized as opportunity, a new chance and help symbolized by Baba Quan saving Uncle Michael from death and Thanh meeting her husband next to the Monkey Bridge.
Unfortunately in Mai's case this link is very weak because of the clash of cultures and generation. The culture of the materialistic world is what Mai and her mother will have to accept to live in the world. Her mother is a strong orthodox and liberal in culture and this creates the tensions of the clash of ideals.
Another focus is that of how Immigrants must adapt to society and the influence of the American Dream upon them. The mother and daughter's roles virtually switch because the mother must completely adapt to a completely new system and the daughter adapts quicker so she becomes the one that ultimately teaches her mom. Mai is faced with many troubles in deciding which to follow: her culture and society or that of her ancestors. She slowly becomes susceptible to the American Ways and applies to college. The feeling of moving away from your home is described by Mai's mother as a strange feeling "..into an exterior world none of us could comprehend, we became in a palpable way, a people who were neither dead or alive."Ã¯Â¿Â½ The shocking ending metaphorically describes the major flaw in American Society, which is, what is promised in America is not always true and the lucent glory is deceivable. Mai, went to far lengths and gave herself up to try to get Baba Quan back home but in the end, what she was hoping fell apart: this is the single fact of this book that makes it an American Classic. Through the troubles and hardships of these Vietnam immigrants the weak bridge to America is displayed. Yet amidst the criticism America is portrayed as place for a new start. As Mai's mother describes, Mai believes it will be "a new beginning unrestricted by a past. There her eyes will always be glued to the horizon. (Pg169)"Ã¯Â¿Â½ Her mother also describes her reason for coming to America in order to "create alternate versions that suit my imagination and heal my soul."Ã¯Â¿Â½ In conclusion the bridge to America is one that many dream of and when they arrive many create a new life to escape from the past yet they often find themselves in a society where materialism and clashing ideals and motives prevail.