“Two Ways to Belong to America”
“In one family, from two sisters alike as peas in a pod, there could not be a wider divergence of immigrant experience” (45).
Body Paragraphs, the points made:
1. Growing up similar, with a similar childhood and other background (paragraph 1)
a. The reasons for their travel to the U.S. (paragraph 2)
b. Their choices of husbands (paragraphs 3-5)
c. the reason for writing this piece: the recent debate on immigration statuses
2. Relationship between the sisters even though different (paragraph 6)
a. Being close
b. Being affectionate to each other, despite differences
c. Having polite arguments
d. Pitying each other for choices made
3. Why the concern now? (Paragraph 8)
a. Mira’s feelings about the recent changes in immigration laws
b. Her statements on what America should differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants
4. Bharati’s analysis of her sister’s feelings: (Paragraph 9-10)
a. She feels that Mira endures “a loveless marriage” with the country of her choice
b. How far does Mira’s “Americanization” go
c. Mira’s admission that if America “want to play the manipulative game,” she will change her citizenship but go back to her Indian citizenship when she is ready to return to India (45)
5. Bharati’s own admissions: her love for the country she chose to live in ( Paragraph 11)
a. She is willing to be demoted in her “caste status” by moving from aristocracy to an “immigrant nobody” (45)
b. She is willing to surrender “those thousand years of ‘pure culture,’ the saris, the delightfully accented English” (45)
6. Analysis of Mira’s concerns: (Paragraph 12)
a. Mira could be giving voice to the millions of people in the “immigrant community” who have been “
b. Mira’s abilities might be different from theirs, but she is still part of that community
7. Bharati’s own experience in Canada, when she too was mistreated (comparison between the American move and the Canadian government’s change in policies) (Paragraph 13 and 14)
a. Explains what happened in Canada
b. she “felt the same sense of betrayal that Mira feels now” (46)
c. That is what drove her and others like her from Canada to the U.S.
1. Mira and Bharati still are different in their ways of interacting with the country they have chosen to live in
2. Mira lives here like an “expatriate Indian”; Bharati lives here as “a part of the community” (46)
3. Last line (important. and something she leaves the readers to think about): “The price that the immigrant willingly pays, and that exile avoids, is the trauma of self-transformation” (46).
How do you belong in ? That was the first thing that popped in my head when I saw Bharati Mukherjee’s essay Two Ways to Belong in America. This essay was about the differences between Bharati and her sister Mira’s views on immigrants. Throughout the essay Mukherjee used rhetorical devices such as: compare/contrast, fluency, and tone. She used these in such a way that it was both interesting and easy to read.
“She, for the lack of structure in my life, the erasure of Indianness, the absence of an unvarying daily core. I, for the narrowness of her perspective, her uninvolvement with mythic depths or the superficial pop culture of this society.” (Page 273) The difference in what Bharati and Mira pity in each other is one of the many ways the girls are compared and contrasted. Bharati made it really easy to understand the uniqueness of each sister. It was also really interesting to see how different two sisters can be that are raised in the same house.
I originally thought that the continual use of the mixing sentences of different lengths choppy and hard to read. However, I found it an enjoyable essay. The sentences were smooth most of the time, but sentences that listed hampered the ability to read the essay fluently. “I’ve obeyed all the rules, I’ve paid my taxes, I love my work, I love my students, I love the friends I’ve made.” (Page 274) Some of the sentences such as that one were a little choppy, but others were smooth which balanced the essay. Such as, “I am moved that thousands of long-term residents are finally taking the oath of citizenship.” (Page 272)
The tone in this essay really stood out. It was really easy to understand the emotions that were going between the two sisters. Mira, you could tell, was upset that immigrants needed to be a citizen. “This is such an unfair way to treat a person who was invited to stay and work here because of her talent.” (Page 274) Bharati embraced the idea of becoming a citizen. “She is happier to live in as expatriate Indian than as an immigrant American. I need to feel like a part of the community I have adopted...” (Page 275)
The rhetorical devices that Baharti used is kept me interested: the comparisons and the contrasting, the tone, and the fluency. After reading through the essay my question was answered and the answer was of course, obvious. In Baharti and Mira’s opinion, the two ways to live in was either as a citizen or as an immigrant.