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Two Ways to Belong in America

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Ana Villa

on 14 June 2014

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Transcript of Two Ways to Belong in America

Two Ways to Belong in America
About her Writing
Two Ways to Belong in America: SOAPSTone Analysis
About the Author: Bharati Mukherjee
Date of Birth: July 27, 1940
By Bharati Mukherjee
Where: Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India
Life story overview:
Mukherjee was born to wealthy parents in India. She was a very bright child; by the age of three she learned how to read and write. In 1947, she moved to Britain with her family at the age of eight and lived in Europe for about three and a half years. By the age of ten, Mukherjee knew that she wanted to become a writer, and had written numerous short stories.

After getting her B.A from the University of Calcutta in 1959 and her M.A. in English and Ancient Indian Culture from the University of Baroda in 1961, she came to the United States. Having been awarded a scholarship from the University of Iowa, she earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 1963 and her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1969. While studying at the University of Iowa, she met and married a Canadian student from Harvard, Clark Blaise. Mukherjee’s career as professor and her marriage to Blaise Clark has given her opportunities to teach all over the United States and Canada. Currently she is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Mukherjee’s literary works focus on migration, the status of new immigrants, and the feeling of alienation often experienced by expatriates as well as on Indian women and their struggle. She also mentions her own struggle with identity, first as an exile from India, then an Indian expatriate in Canada and finally as a immigrant in the United States has led to her current state of being an immigrant in a country of immigrants.

Speaker: Bharati Mukherjee, first person point of view, anecdote.
Occasion: Mukherjee wrote the essay Two Ways to Belong in America in response to Congress after they started a movement to take away government benefits from resident aliens (immigrants).
Audience: The general public, Anyone who is willing to fight Congress for the rights of immigrants, Congress directly.
Purpose: To inform others of her personal American immigrant encounter compared to her sister's encounter both of which resemble the distinict struggle many immigrants face.
The different types of struggles immigrants must face.
Reflective& Sympathetic (towards her sister) because she reflects on her life compared to her sister given they are both immigrants however, Mukherjee adopts and enjoys the culture while her sister continues her old Indian traditions.
Two Ways to Belong in America is an anecdote from when Mukherjee immigrated to America with her sister. This style of writing is very effective in regards to her achieving her goal: to persuade people to vote against Congress' decision. By illustrating the two different immigration experiences the two very similar sisters had, it a more genuine story that causes the audience to be overwhelmed with sympathy for the two women. The facts and emotions stated by Mukherjee's first hand experience holds great power which reinforces her whole purpose in writing such piece of art.
Rhetorical Devices
Pathos: Throughout the entire essay, there is an emotional appeal present. The different circumstances the two sisters find themselves in alone is described using descriptive language. Mukherjee describes marrying a man outside her ethnic group an "emotional strain". Her whole life wasn't a strain though, she had a great experience in America compared to her sister who couldn't let go of India. This contrast shows just how emotionally different their experiences were.
Compare and Contrast: The entire essay also consists of compare and contrast. Mira, the sister, claims to feel "used" by America because she's given it her most precious work while still clinging onto Indian citizenship. On the other hand, Bharati feels welcomed in America since it offered her so many opportunities she did not have in India. The two contrasting stories are effective in the way that they depict the emotional struggle immigrants and/or expatriates go through.
Questions for Discussion and Writing
List of qualities:
It is evident that Bharati was
able to merge so well into America because she is openminded while Mira struggled because she was reserved and kept tied to India traditions.
Mukherjee spends much of the essay comparing herself to her sister, which also contains a larger comparison. The essay compares the different experiences immigrants go through when leaving their native countries.
No, when a friend and I disagree vehemently over an issue our discussions are not "polite". Our arguments are civilized but we tend to end up speaking quite loudly. Most of the time our views do not change however we do respect each other's views but we don't accept them straightforwardly.
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