Jimmy Carter once said, “We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. ” What he meant by that was America is a very diverse country. Without the difference of its people, America is not America. In the novel, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez, the story centers around the Rivera family adjusting in the United States. Also, it focuses the life story of the people around them while in the short story, “The English Lesson” by Nicholasa Mohr, it focuses on how immigrants see the United States.
Both readings were able to show that many immigrants struggle before and after the come to the United States of America. Many immigrants in the United States wanted to reach the American Dream. For them, in order to achieve this dream is that you have to be a US citizen. Many immigrants want to have the same opportunities and rights that Americans get in the United States. Although many of them want to become a citizen, there are a lot of other immigrants who don’t intend to become a citizen.
These people might have the same reason as other immigrants (who wants to be a citizen) but they don’t plan to ecome a citizen for some reasons. In Henriquez’s novel and Mohr’s short story, two characters have a similar case. Both of the characters don’t plan to stay in the United States forever. Gustavo Milhojas is the only character from the novel who emigrated to the United States. He moved in the United States so he can provide a better life for his children who are in Mexico. He said “I came to the United States to earn more money for my children.
They are living with a family friend now while I’m here.. When both of them graduate, I would like to go back to Mexico to be with them” (Henriquez, 89-90). Gustavo’s only intention is to make sure that his children are in good condition. You can infer that he has no intention to become American citizen due to the statements he has said that he will come back to Mexico once his children graduated college. While Gustavo did not verbally say he don’t want to become a citizen, Diego is very expressive of his feeling in the idea of becoming a US citizen.
He said “OK, I prefer live feeling happy in my country, man… Pero this is no possible in the situation of Santo Domingo now. Someday we gonna run our own country and be jobs for everybody. My reasons to be here is to make money, man, and go back home buy house and property. I no be American citizen, no way. I’m Dominican and proud! ” (Mohr, 197-198). Many immigrants have the same reason as Diego. They moved to the United States because of the terrible condition that they were facing in their home country. To him, it’s not a reason to turn your back to your country just because it’s not doing well.
Gustavo and Diego are very similar because they just want to build a good fortune in the United States and once they reached it, they will go back to their home country. The United States of America symbolizes as hope for many immigrants. Many people sacrifice a lot of things just to come here because they believed that their life will be better. In Henriquez’s novel, a character named Arturo Rivera moved in the United States with his wife Alma and daughter Maribel. The reason for them moving to the United States is to seek medical attention for their daughter who got in an accident.
Arturo and his family didn’t only sacrifices their comfortable life but also, he left his well paying job and work as a minimum wage worker. In he conversation that Alma and Arturo had, it says: “Do they know about your experience? You could be a manager there’ ‘No, I couldn’t Tell them that in Mexico you owned a construction They’re not going to care about that’ ‘But you could do more that pull mushrooms in the dark’ business’ We knew this was going to be the job, Alma’ Why don’t you want to tell them about your qualifications? happy just to have a job” (Henriquez, 25). Life was really hard for his family.
They used to live a very comfortable life but when they moved to the United States, they start from scratch. Arturo and his wife didn’t sacrifice their good life just for anything, they did it just for the sake of their daughter. Arturo’s sacrifice is much alike to Stephan Paczkowski, a character from Mohr’s short story. Their story is very similar because both of them have a stable job in their home country. The reason why Stephan and his family left Poland because the government wants them to leave. Since then, it was hard for him to find a job because he can’t speak English very well.
He said. , “I was given appointment of professor of history of music at University of Krakow. I work there for the years until about year and half ago… Since four months I am working in a large hospital as position of porte in maintenance department” (Mohr, 198). It was hard to imagine that someone has to leave their own country just because of the hatred of the government towards to a specific group. Also, it’s hard for someone to adjust to a new working environment especially when that person works in a different field for a long time.
Although the reason Arturo and Stephan for leaving their country was very different from one another, they have a very similar story. They sacrifice the good life that they have to take a risk living in the United States. I’m not going to make waves, Alma. I’m Both readings are able to show the conflicts that many immigrants face in the United States, both readings were different from one another. In the novel, The Book of Unknown Americans it focuses on the Latinos while short story, “The English Lesson” offers a perspective from different ethnic background.
Focusing on only one specific group limits the reader’s perspective about the life of immigrants in the United States. When the Riveras came to the United States, they moved n a building where all of their neighbors are Latinos. It says, “Here is us! Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Paraguay. We have it all” (Henriquez, 36). Since the characters in the novel categorized in the same group the struggles that they having are similar from one another. In “The English Lesson,” the readers are able to learn the perspective of the immigrants from the ethnic background.
Since the setting of the story is in New York City, one of the diverse city in America, it’s expected that people rom different races are represented in the story. It says, “Most of the student were Spanish-speaking. The majority were American citizens- Puerto Ricans who had migrated to new York and spoke very little English. The rest were immigrants admitted to the United States as legal aliens. There were several Chinese, Two Dominicans, one Sicilian and one Pole” (Mohr, 195). Since many of the characters in the short story are not identity in just one group, the ideas that the reader will get will be different compared to the novel one.
Although the novel and the short tory are different from one another, they share one common idea, the life of immigrants in the United States is not easy. America is made up of immigrants. Without immigrants, this nation will not be born. The novel, The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez and the short story, “The English Learner” by Nicholasa Mohr showed its reader that not all immigrants who live in the United States live in a prosperous life. The authors of both respective readings were able to show that immigrants face conflict before and after they step their foot in America.