response essay about identity to the novel Catfish and Mandala

Essay by ayung2018 January 2003

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Banana's identity

The flag of five stars is flying gloriously in the sky. Everyone is clapping enthusiastically. Fireworks are being shot off like a dragon and transform to a vivid crown. All of a sudden, I hear my name in a familiar husky voice, "Andrew? Interesting video huh, you were watching it without a blink!" I recognize that's Mr. Scherer's voice, he continued, "I'm glad that you're paying so much attention to the video. So this is your homeland Hong Kong huh? I bet you were the same happy when the British return Hong Kong back to China right?" I look around and find myself sitting on the third row of Mr. Scherer's honors history class discussing the development of colonies governed by England. I look back at the TV screen, trying to look for an answer for his simple yes-or-no question. I cannot answer. I was neither happy nor sad five years ago when the British left.

Why would I be happy? What am I? Chinese? What about British? American? I smiled back to Mr. Scherer and said, "I don't know."

In the book Catfish and Mandala, Andrew Pham was the same struggling with his identity after he left his homeland Vietnam. For Pham, leaving his country to the United States is a big turning point in his life. This turning point changes his life a lot the same way it changes me, both physically and mentally. On one hand, I get a better life, education and freedom in California; on the other hand, the strong feeling of homelessness is always there no matter where I go. The "desperation of a runaway" (Pham 50). has always been in my mind. This kind of desperation is what makes Pham decides to travel from California to Saigon through endless hardship and...