The Buddha in the Attic

by Julie Otsuka

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How would I write a reflective essay about the importance of identity and connect it to the book The Buddha in the Attic and society?

Expert Answers

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In a reflective essay, you will generally focus on yourself and your own experiences, but in this case, you will relate those ideas and experiences to Julie Otsuka's novel The Buddha in the Attic. Since your overall topic is the importance of identity and the connection to society, you have some interesting options for your essay. Let's brainstorm a couple.

Since the novel focuses on the identities of people in various cultures, you could reflect on how your culture affects and shapes your own identity. The women in the novel are Japanese brides who come to America. These women have developed their identities according to their own cultural expectations. They are prepared to become wives and mothers, and while their expectations don't match their experiences, they maintain their identities even in the midst of hardship. These are strong women. You might ask yourself how your identity depends upon your culture and how you have internalized your culture's values and made them your own.

Alternately, you could focus your essay on how cultural identity changes over generations. We see this in the novel as the women's children grow up and adopt the values of the American society. Their identities are quite different from those of their parents. Think about whether this has happened in your own family. You might consider how your parents' or grandparents' identities were shaped differently by culture and society than your own identity has been.

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