one of the themes of the book is silencing. What forces contribute to silencing? What help break silence? What is the role of listening in cultural understanding?
The silence in the book is caused by the racism that Chinese- Americans had to deal with. The men in Kingston's family were also given, like almost all Chinese Americans at the time, the most difficult labor. In Hawaii, they were forced to do the back-breaking labor in sugar cane fields, and on the mainland, they had to do the most dangerous jobs building the railroad.
Acceptance by society certainly helps to break the silence, but it's also important for society to do more than just accept you. Society must also recognize that you are a valuable asset to society, both recognizing and celebrating your differences. True cultural understanding can only occur when each person respects the beliefs and customs of groups from other countries and cultures. We must listen to others if we are to ever understand them.