Summary Of Catfish And Mandala

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Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam is the story of Andrew X. Pham known as An, and his struggle with his own identity as neither a Vietnamese nor an American as well as the story of his sister Chi and her lifelong struggle to understand herself. The story begins with An as a nine year old boy in a post war Vietnam. An’s family is planning to embark on a treacherous voyage to escape communist Vietnam for the United States by boat. The story focuses on An and his sister Chi, who is searching for her identity along with An. However, Chi’s identity search is not like that of An’s. I will focus specifically on chapter 8 from Pham’s book, titled Last Gamble, which is featured in our book Coming…show more content…
Pham’s story is undoubtedly a common story of people from war torn countries. He is neither a citizen of the country he has fled, nor an accepted member of the society is has relocated to. Pham wrote Catfish and Mandala, as a narrative of the story of himself trying to discover who he was, while on a journey back to Vietnam. In chapter eight of Phams book, the Last Gamble, Pham was only nine, he was Vietnamese, and enjoyed his life in Vietnam. Pham was unaware of the hardships he was about to encounter both during his journey to the United States and once his family arrived at their new home. While living in the United States Pham learned how Vietnamese traditions were not accepted in his new country. He learned ho Asians are stereotyped. Even the Vietnamese Pham encounters in the United States do not accept his family. Pham left what he believed was a good life in Vietnam, enjoying a middle class upbringing for a life of poverty in the United States. Pham was able to benefit from an American education and eventually became an engineer, but even this led to racially motivated misgivings that eventually helped lead Pham to begin his two wheeled journey back to his ancestral…show more content…
How does a country rebuild itself? Perhaps this is why I was drawn to this particular story. However, Andrew X. Pham’s book Catfish and Mandala, is more than a story about surviving post war Vietnam. This is a story about Pham and his sister Chi discovering who they are. In chapter eight of the story which I focused on, Pham loved and enjoyed Vietnam, and Chi loved Phan Thiet, and Grandma Le. Chi was free to be herself while living with Grandma Le, and perhaps most importantly she was away from her father. During this time, Pham was eager for his journey towards a new life in America, but was unaware of the challenges he would face. As cliché is the term coming of age is, it is the title of the book I pulled Catfish and Mandala from, and is fitting for Andrew X. Pham’s story. Pham’s coming of age story is one that spans continents and years. He was young when his family left Vietnam for a better life, that Pham never felt accepted in. It took the suicide of his transgendered sister and the racism he experienced in everyday life for him to begin his journey back to Vietnam. Even upon his return to Vietnam he was not welcomed by the Vietnamese. In America he was called a number of racial slurs, but never recognized as anything more than what stereotypes followed him from Asia. When he returned to Vietnam, the Vietnamese called him Viet-Kieu, which means foreign Vietnamese. It was a
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