Assimilation In Marilyn Chin's Trying To Find Chinatown

1686 Words7 Pages

Assimilation is usually meant to indicate what happens to immigrants in a new land. However, “rejection, loneliness, discrimination—these were the byproducts of living in the United States” (Ghymn 37). In Marilyn Chin’s essay on assimilation “How I Got That Name,” the speaker acquaints the readers how she got the American name “Marilyn.” The tension between the two cultures is evident, for the speaker is treated as “Model Minority.” Her race and ethnicity define her; in fact, the stereotypes inscribed with her race restricted and cage her significance in the society. Similarly, David Hwang’s 10-minute play “Trying to Find Chinatown” centers on an encounter between Ronnie, a Chinese-American street musician, and Benjamin, a Caucasian tourist from Wisconsin who identifies himself as Asian-American, in the busy street of New York. In the play, “each character defines who he believes he is: Benjamin is convinced he is a Chinese American, and Ronnie sees …show more content…

However, Ronnie does not see himself as a Chinese-American, but as a musician—a violinist. In Ronnie’s situation, Hwang wants the audience to see another perspective of self-identification. Self-identification must be from within, rather than from society’s expectations of race and ethnicity. Ronnie sees himself and identifies himself based on his passion and occupation. However, Benjamin accuse Ronnie of assimilating incorrectly. According to Karen Dabney’s Oral Performance/Aural Traditions: Cultural Identity in David Henry Hwang’s Trying to find Chinatown, “a common problem Asian Americans encounter is generic racial identification by outsiders, rather than precise recognition of their ancestral and ethnic roots.” Benjamin feels that Ronnie surrendered himself to his adopted country and has failed to preserve and protect his heritage and

Open Document