In the American Society by Gish Jen

Start Your Free Trial

Download In the American Society Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Analysis

In the American Society by Gish Jen is the story of an immigrant family in the United States trying to live the American dream. The author is an American writer. She writes the book to reveal the struggles immigrant families (in particular Chinese Americans) go through as they try to make their lives better. One of the themes in the book is racism, which is revealed when Mr. Chang, one of the main characters, is mistreated at a party because of his race and social status. The author reveals that living the American dream is not as easy as it sounds, because other socio-cultural factors impede this goal.

Gish Jen writes the story in chronological order. She gives a description of the Changs and their ambitions and explains the struggles they experience in achieving their dreams. I agree with the sentiments of the author that it is difficult to make it in the United States. Hard work, sacrifice, patience, and a lot of tolerance are required to experience the dream. I found the content in the book relevant, considering that racism is a social issue that we continue to struggle with, and the American dream is hard to achieve.

Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“In the American Society” is a lively and humorous story. The narrator seems to be chuckling to herself when she tells it. There are many comic turns and hilarious situations, and it is filled with an assortment of zany individuals. Although it is primarily about the Changs, the side attractions are just as integral. One such subplot is that concerning Ralph’s experiences with Booker and Cedric. Booker and Cedric’s joint farewell letter is sheer comedy, from its appearance after they have availed themselves of Ralph’s largess to its many misspellings and overall naïveté. The cast of pancake-house characters is similar to the cast of a situation comedy—one can easily picture Ralph being godfatherly and tyrannical in turn, as his staff members add color to the scene.

Although the party...

(The entire section is 494 words.)