Traditionally, immigration raises numerous difficulties and challenges in face of immigrants, who move to a new country with a different cultural environment. Often they have difficulties with the adaptation to the life in the new cultural environment but still they have to learn to be a part of their new community as well as their new community should learn how to accept immigrants. At this point, it is possible to refer to the experience of Bharati Mukherjee described in her essay American Dreamer, where she uncovers her personal experience as an immigrant.
The purpose of the essay American Dreamer by Bharati Mukherjee is to reveal the cultural implications of the immigration and integration of immigrants into the mainstream culture. The author focuses on her personal experience of the integration into the US society and culture mainly, although she briefly refers to her experience of the immigration to Canada, which though was short-run because she could not afford the harassment she was always exposed to in that country. As her family moved to the US, she started a new life in the US, she has started to adapt to the new cultural environment and elaborate the strategy of the new life in the multicultural environment. As a result, Mukherjee insists that she has managed to become the American in the US, in spite of her Asian origin. This is why, the author wants to share her experience with others and attempts to show that people with different cultural background can become Americans.
The denotation meaning of the essay is the description of the author’s experience of becoming American in the US after the immigration and obtaining of the US citizenship.
At the same time, Mukherjee’s essay has the connotation that immigrants obtaining the US citizenship may face the problem of the discrimination and identity loss as they confront the conflict between their own culture and the US culture. The conflict may be very significant but the author believes the juxtaposition of the immigrants’ origin and American culture is unfair. Instead, she insists that all immigrants, regardless of their racial or ethnic background are Americans.
In addition, the connotative meaning of the essay written by Mukherjee refers to the concept of ‘Americanness’. Throughout her essay, Mukherjee always stresses that she is American. In this context, American is not just the attribute to nation or culture. Instead, the author offers broader implications to interpret the word American. Mukherjee views her American citizenship as the manifestation of her multiculturalism. This concept of Americanness means that people should not bound to the specific ethnic or cultural group as the only possible group they can identify themselves with. They should try to become members of the multicultural community such as American one. Americans are diverse and representatives of different ethnic and cultural groups live in the US and identify themselves with Americans and America. According to the author, this is the ultimate manifestation of multiculturalism and acceptance of immigrants and non-immigrants by the community and the elimination of the identity conflict or the resolution of the problem of identity loss in immigrants.
At this point, she refers to her personal experience shared by the author in her essay. Mukherjee insists: “I chose to describe myself on my own terms, as an American, rather than as an Asian-American. Why is it that hyphenation is imposed only on nonwhite Americans? Rejecting hyphenation is my refusal to categorize the cultural landscape into a center and its peripheries; it is to demand that the American nation deliver the promises of its dream and its Constitution to all its citizens equally.” (Mukherjee 96). In such a way, the author dreams of the elimination of the difference between Americans and immigrants. She insists that all citizens of the US are Americans and their distinction as Asian-Americans and just Americans is unfair and discriminatory for immigrants. At this point, the author places emphasis on the fact that the US was traditionally the home country for immigrants and the distinction of immigrants on the ground of their origin is unfair and creates conditions for viewing immigrants as second-class citizens.
At the same time, the author raises another important issue that immigrants confront in the US, the problem of cultural differences. Again she refers to her personal experience and reveals her adaptability to the multicultural environment. She argues that the problem of cultural barriers and differences may be eliminated with the help of multiculturalism which implies the acceptance of cultural differences which should be taken for granted. The mutual respect of representatives of different cultural groups to each other and their close interaction based on the rejection of any discrimination is the way, according to the author, to the elimination of barriers between representatives of different ethnic groups and the creation of one nation of Americans.
On the other hand, Mukherjee is fully aware of the fact that many immigrants and Americans face difficulties with accepting the multiculturalism as integral part of their life through abandoning their own cultural identity and acceptance of the American cultural identity only. At this point, the audience should not misinterpret Mukherjee’s messages concerning the American identity and culture. American is not exactly American in her interpretation. Instead, American means the idealization of her vision of the ideal society, where all people feel comfortable due to their belongingness to the community where they are treated as equals and where there is no room for discrimination.
However, the main point which Mukherjee attempts to convey to the audience is the importance of the internal harmony which immigrants should have. What is meant here is the fact that the author believes that immigrants should not suffer from the identity loss or the conflict between their cultural identity and that of Americans. Instead, people should accept their multicultural environment and view it as the environment, where they should learn to live and become a part of the community, regardless of possible cultural differences, different traditions, norms and standards. There should be a universal set of norms and principles which promote the tolerance of people to each other. The author stresses that she has become American and rejects that she is Asian-American to show that she has already overcome the boundary of her own or American culture. Instead, she has shifted toward tolerance and multiculturalism which eliminate the problem of identity loss or conflicts between representatives of different cultural groups.
Thus, Bharati Mukherjee reveals her personal experience as an immigrant and shows how people should adapt to their environment. At the same time, she insists that people should tolerate each other, regardless of their origin.
Mukherjee, B. American Dreamer. New York: Random House, 2012.