What is one theme of the novel Mona in the Promised Land by Gish Jen?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Then major theme is that of assimilation into a new immigrant home, or promised land. A major depiction of the theme is the language of the narrative. Cultural outsider versus insider status is shown by how a person handles the national language and the cultural variant of the national language. National languages have idioms that do not have literal meanings and therefore don't make sense outside the agreed upon cultural understanding of them. For instance, the idiom "a piece of the action" has nothing to do with pieces of action but idiomatically means to have a share of the proceeds of a joint venture. An outsider tends to misuse such idioms and thereby identifies themselves as someone other than a person who is assimilated in the national society. The same applies to cultural variants such as teen groups or academic groups. The theme is also depicted by Mona's adoption of her friend's Jewish allusions, references, slang, and idioms, showing the idea of fluidity, displayed in language, between ethnic cultures that are brought together in the promised land.

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