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American Dream

Essay by 24  •  January 3, 2011  •  706 Words (3 Pages)  •  573 Views

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The book Bone is a glance at the lives of a Chinese-American family living in Chinatown, and trying to just make it. Mah, Leila’s mother, left her home of China in pursuit of the elusive “American dream” and came up short. The book Bone by Fae Myenne Ng attempts to communicate that the so called “American dream” is impossible to attain and that one has to make his or her own dream happen.

No one in the book seems to want this “dream” more than Mah. “Twenty-five years in the land of gold and good fortune, and then she returned to tell her story: the years spent in sweatshops, the prince of Golden Mountain turned into a toad, and three daughters: one unmarried, another who-cares-where, one dead” (24). From this passage one can safely assume that the “American dream” at least consists of a united family that is alive, well fed, and prosperous. We can also assume that the married daughters are married to upstanding, well-bred gentlemen. “When she left Hong Kong, everyone called her lucky; to live in America was to have a futureвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (24). Nothing in Leila’s mother’s life even remotely resembles this assumption. Reality dropped a figurative grand piano on Mah’s head when she arrived and now she is stuck in Chinatown living the opposite of this prosperous and happy life. "It wasn't just death that upset Mah, it was life, too" (82). The “American dream” is a path many have followed but it only leads to a dead end. Had this path not existed however, would Mah have even come to America?

The “American dream” is a standard that is impossible for Mah, or anyone, to live up to. Much like a soldier at war armed with only an X-acto knife, she is doomed to fail from the start. First of all, she is an immigrant and wants to retain her own culture versus assimilating into the American culture. “Don't eat American every day," Mah said. "It's not good for you” (48). This desire means living in Chinatown, not the most posh place in the country, where jobs do not just fall into one’s lap. Secondly, some might argue the “American dream” isn’t something Mah truly wants because she clearly is happiest back home in China, not pursuing the dream, and it showed when she came back from her trip home. “Mah looked great, a good ten years younger. She’d finally put on some weight, and her coloring came back, a glow. She wore her makeup like she did in the old daysвЂ¦Ð²Ð‚Ñœ (98). When Ona, Leila’s sister, committed suicide the hope of achieving

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