American History

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Cultural Acceptance There is a need for America to value the Native Speakers of languages other than English. The recently arrived immigrants face a language barrier that is only part of the many difficulties they endure in the United States. The cultural aspects of America that they do not understand offend many of them. Even the second-generation immigrants cannot be accepted into the American mainstream. They are considered to be outsiders, as their skin color is darker, and their facial features do not reflect the lighter-skinned Americans. Chang-Rae Lee indicates in Native Speaker that the non-white Americans cannot help but see themselves as inferior to the white Americans. The main character is Native Speaker, Henry Park, attempts to remove his immigrant identity, and as a result, he becomes a traitor to immigrants of his kind. Native Speaker depicts the problems involving alienation, isolation, and self-identity crisis that the immigrants face as the minority and outsiders in American society.

This novel takes the structure of detective fiction, developing a story of a spy who investigates an ambitious politician. Its main action concerns an amazingly charismatic New York City councilman, John Kwang, the idol of thousands of immigrant voters in his home district of Queens. Someone wants to see him go down, and it is Park's job to do the dirty work. This story of trust and betrayal is also connected together with other, more delicate threads: His troubled relationship with his traditional Korean father, his troubled marriage to his American wife, and his Confucian inability to express love to either of them except through silence. The novel interweaves politics, love, family, and loss as Park starts to make sense of the rhythm of his life. As he does, his experiences illuminate the many-layered immigrant experience in general-the Asian...