In Seedfolks, why was Amir critical of America?

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Amir is critical of America because he misses the easy camaraderie of his Indian homeland. Even among millions of inhabitants, Amir states that everyone knew their neighbors in India. He regrets that he can't say the same about America. It seems that privacy and individuality are so highly prized within American culture that one is reduced to treating one's neighbors as foes rather than potential friends.

To that end, Amir is thankful for the community garden. He says that the garden's greatest benefit was to bring neighbors together in friendship. He cites an example of how his pale, purple eggplants become the talk of the community growers and how glad people were to be able to use his exotic eggplants as an excuse to start a conversation with him.

When a Mexican family builds a barbecue fire and roasts a pig by the garden, everyone joins in for an impromptu harvest festival. Every gardener proudly displays their produce, and vegetables are exchanged between neighbors. The community garden helps Amir realize that he is just as guilty in perpetuating stereotypes of people in his mind as others; he tells us that an illuminating conversation with an old Polish woman in the garden forever changes his view of Polish people.

When I heard her words I realized how useless was all that I'd heard about Poles, how much richness it hid, like the worthless shell around an almond.

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In Seedfolks, why was Amir critical of America?

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman is structured as a series of vignettes, with each chapter written from the point of view of a different character. Amir, an Indian immigrant, is the 12th character introduced. His narrative opens with a complaint that despite the millions of people populating his home country, “you know your neighbors.” In America, however, you “avoid contact, to treat all as foes.”

He describes how people in his urban Cleveland neighborhood used to treat each other suspiciously, the limited interactions they have tinged with prejudice. For example, Amir describes being called a “dirty foreigner” by a customer in his store. He contrasts this past atmosphere of hate with the new atmosphere of unity the garden brings the community. The greatest benefit the garden brings, Amir says, is that it makes them “see our neighbors.” They are now friendly, helping each other, part of a community. The same woman who had used a racial slur against Amir now sees him with new eyes, apologizing profusely and saying that before, “I didn’t know it was you.”

Amir’s story shows that just through simple interactions, people can view each other as individuals and grow to an understanding and appreciation of individual diversity. 

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