Themes and Meanings

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Green Card is a play about the struggles of immigrants to the United States, but it goes beyond mere sympathy for their plight. It examines the connections between the policies and attitudes of the United States government and the responsibility of individuals in creating the bigoted atmosphere that greets most immigrants.

The form of the play, with its collage of voices and use of various media, is integral to its message. It re-creates the confusing welter of sounds and experiences that confront the refugee. The variety of characters and experiences also reproduces the variety of experiences of immigrants, from Latin American political refugees to such elite characters as Marshal Ky, who left powerful friends and expensive clothing behind him in his forced immigration. Attitudes range from that of the patriotic Jewish immigrant of the play’s opening to that of the hardworking, bitter maid from Central America.

An important element of the play is the conflict between maintaining one’s ethnic background and assimilating the customs and language of the United States. Certain voices, taken from such works as In Their Place: White America Defines Her Minorities, 1850-1950, depict the deeply entrenched xenophobia of those Americans who resent the influx of immigrants. Other voices are clearly critical of U.S. policies in Central America and in Southeast Asia. In several segments of the play, assimilation is portrayed as a...

(The entire section is 443 words.)