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Response Essay About Identity To The Novel Catfish And Mandala

1446 words - 6 pages

Banana's identityThe 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 adversity.Pham considers himself a Vietnamese American but not American Vietnamese. Before he moved to California, he has no doubt about his identity. He knows he is going to be an American living in a place of acceptance, a place of chance with freedom and equality. "It seemed, then, that we could simply walk out of Vietnam and right into America, beautiful free America, somewhere at the end of this wondrous road." (Pham 61). Yet, as he arrived, he felt like he does not belong in here. He has always been trying to convince everyone including himself that he is an American. When he was in Mexico, Tyle asked him, "Where are you from?" (Pham 6). He gave a normal American answer, "Bay area, California." (Pham 6). However, as he is trying hard to be an absolute American, the reality is failing him. He notices that it is impossible to change how people judge him because he is Asian. "The passenger sticks his head out the window and pushes up the corners of his eyes, making "Chinese eyes" at me. They roar off, hooting their horn, laughing, whooping: "yeah! Right on the head!" (Pham 38). He felt a great deal of anger, but there is nothing he can do except treating it as "one downside of bicycle touring, and that some people throw trash because I am a bicyclist and not because of the slant of my eyes." (Pham 38)....

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