“Two Ways To Belong In America” By Bharati Mukherjee
An Indian born American Bharati Mukherjee is a well-known writer, describing the issues of immigration and multiculturalism. “Two Ways to Belong in America” was published in 1996 in response to the citizen USA program, established by former Vice President, Al Gore and his team. The book tells the story of two sisters, who have the different views on being an immigrant in the USA. Bharati Mukherjee in his work shows the adaptation to another culture and the way it influences the identity. Two Indian girls have a different status of the USA immigrants. Bharati is an American citizen, while Mira is not. Both of them have been living in the USA for 35 years.
The women have similar attitudes to life, but coming to the USA, changed them and have different points of view. Their idea was to study in America for a few years, and then come back home to India. But the situation has changed because both girls have married the men of their choice. Still, they have the contact by phone.
Mira believes that the benefits of the immigrants will help those people who come to America after the rules have been implemented, but not for those who have been there like herself. Mira wants to maintain her Indian identity. “If America wants to play a manipulative game, I will play it too”- she tells to her sister, Bharati. Mira will play by getting a temporary American identity. Mira loves India dearly and will eventually denounce the American citizenship and come back to Motherland. Unlike her sister, Bharati has adapted to the American society and feels like a part of it. Though she understands the betrayal that her sister feels. She compares the situation in the USA with Canada, where the government has turned against the immigrants. So Bharati has already acquired the American citizenship for nothing to destroy her life here in the USA.
Having chosen the descriptive style of writing, the author makes her sisters image alive in words. She compares her expatriate identity with “long-enduring, comfortable, yet loveless marriage”. The author organizes her story in a chronicle order, except last pages, where she tells the readers that she was forced out of Canada by the anti-immigration act. So she feels sympathy for the situation of her sister. She employs juxtaposition of her circumstances to display contrast of that. “She is happier to live in America as an expatriate Indian than as an immigrant American”. Parallelism is not the only exemplifies her level of literacy but also emphasizes her argument and strikes the readers.
The essay structure manages to show the emotional development of Mira. Bharati writes about how they have kept good relations though they differ very much. Then she shows what each sister thinks of one another in their heart. This comes after she describes how Mira was angry after she knew about the anti-immigration bill.
The author does not have much to say to her immigrant society because she is no longer a part of it. Loving her Motherland and having the obligations in the USA, she is qualified to speak to people that are naturalized by their own will. She states that “Mira is here to maintain identity, not to transform it”. Bharati comes to an interesting view herself by claiming that she “hopes for to transform as well as be transformed by the world.”
There are two ways to belong in America. The first is means that you either have a green card or you are a citizen. Another way is to fit in with society and to feel as if you belong. But to belong to America requires also to be able to live an independent life. To live in the USA you should be able to keep up with modern technology and be able to function in the certain situations.