Who Will Light Incense When Mother's Gone Summary

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The short story by Andrew Lam, “Who Will Light the Incense When Mother’s Gone,” focuses on a Vietnamese family. As this family immigrates to America, they struggle to assimilate into the culture, while at the same time keeping their own Vietnamese culture alive. Lam’s mother often fears Lam is too far into the American lifestyle. This fear is expressed through the author’s use of the “cowboy” metaphor when he uses the Vietnamese definition as “someone who leaves town to ride alone in the sunset.” This metaphor would also be a very appropriate description of the American cowboy. Lam expresses the fear of being alone in the world without his mother, but the hesitation of keeping up the traditional traits.
The writer refers to ‘home’ as something that has been kept alive and passed from to generation, and no matter how old, their home is still comforting. Lam uses imagery to describe the incense slowly burning
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1) I know that my grandmother wonder’s if the tradition will go on when she is gone. My grandmother wanted my mother to pass on the German traditions to future generations. My mother has tried to teach me German traditions and culture. For example, over the years she has tried talking to me in German and teaching me how to make certain foods like sauerkraut. Doing this kept some of the German traditions around and in the family. I want to pass the German traditions on to my children. It is important to me to make sure that my children know some of their heritage. On the other hand, my mother has the same thought as Lam’s mother “Honestly, I don’t know. None of my children will do it,” (par. 2) my brother is much like Lam. He participates in the traditions now, but after she is gone, I do not think he will. He is too wrapped up in his world of world of cutting down trees and being a fire fighter; much like Lam being wrapped up with his “world of travel, writing, and public speaking” (par.
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