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Paying The Price Essay

2076 words - 9 pages

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was tailored to cripple the immigration of Chinese into the United States, because they were deemed inassimilable and seen as uncivilized, unclean and filthy, creating an anti-Chinese fervor (Zia). This era promoted resentment towards Chinese which further escalated, with the Johnson-Reed Act of 1924 that extended to other Asian groups. Nonetheless, this did not prevent Chinese immigrants from entering the United States. Chinese found loopholes in the law that allowed them to bring their family members as ‘paper sons’. The 1906 earthquake in San Francisco destroyed municipal records, which catalyzed immigration from China by allowing Chinese-men to claim US citizenship and bring their family from China (Takaki 8). The Adventures of Eddie Fung depicts the story of a young-man born in China and his immigration to the US as a ‘paper son’ in the 1930s. His significance correlates to the contradiction developed by US deeming Chinese as inassimilable, and presenting Eddie enduring his hardships but maintaining his inner-American spirit. The book portrays his life in Chinatown, Texas and serving for the US military during WWII, which allowed Chinese to experience the preliminary steps in gaining acceptance in the US (Takaki 14).
Eddie’s father arrived to Canada first in the early 1900s and then immigrated to the US illegally. He built his residency in Chinatown and eventually sent for his family after the San Francisco earthquake. Chinatown served as an ethnic enclave “where ancestral culture and values are honored and practiced as a way of life, and ethnic pride is invigorated” (Zhou-Gatewood 126). These enclaves allowed Chinese to smoothly transition into a façade of American life. Living in a predominantly Chinese area there was a degree of harmony, but these enclaves harbored individuals from the reality of America’s racial discrimination. That is why Eddie did not experience any discrimination until his later adolescent years. Eddie grew up with both parents, and his four sisters. Eddie’s family was not dirt-poor but did not enjoy any luxuries either. His family would depend on local-markets to provide free or discounted food, such as buying hard bread as opposed to fresh bread. Over the summer he would be sent to a camp, to improve what school-officials categorized as malnutrition. Although he enjoyed the close-knit community of Chinatown he “Hated the fact that the boundaries of Chinatown were so limited” (Yung 23).
Eddie’s father influenced Eddie to be the chaperone in the family despite his age. At an early age he felt as though he had a financial responsibility, which influenced him to get a job as both a shoe-shiner and a paperboy. He describes his family’s structure as the father being the head of the family, and the mother as the heart. This helped create a balance within the family, but caused tension between Eddie and his father’s expectations. Eddie experienced two spheres of education, American...

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