— [http://goo.gl/qlYsOI] Crevecoeur —Letter III, What is an American— and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane. _______________________Immigration

:: RT: Writing http://goo.gl/qlYsOI an essay on Crevecoeur —Letter III, What is an American— and Monica Ali's Brick Lane; Interdisciplinary Course with Cultural Studies | #Essay #Immigration #Bangladesh #Muslims #British #Americans #StudyNotes #UniversityStudies #SocialStudies #CulturalStudies #Society #Culture What is an American? What is a Bangladeshi in Brick Lane?

Exam in Interdisciplinary course (combines both literature and cultural studies: UK/American Literature and UK/American Culture)

The earliest articulation of the melting pot concept came in 1782, from J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, a French officer turned New York settler, who envisioned assimilated Europeans as ingredients in a vast melting pot of cultures. The concept of the melting pot later expanded to include people from different races and backgrounds, as it became one of the cornerstones of assimilation theory. While many academics dispute the relevance of the term, the model of the melting pot offers an idealistic vision of U.S. society and identity, combining people from diverse ethnic, religious, political, and economic backgrounds together into a single people.

In The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. by William H. Gilmanetal. (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1960-1982), vol. IX, 1843-1847, ed. by Ralph H. Orthand Alfred R. Ferguson (1971), pp. 299f., the following entry for 1845 can be found:

Well, as in the old burning of the Temple at Corinth, by the melting & intermixture of silver & gold & other metals, a new compound more precious than any, called the Corinthian Brass, was formed so in this Continent, -asylum of all nations, the energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, & Cossacks, & all the European tribes, - of the Africans, & of the Polynesians, will construct a new race, a new religion, a new State, a new literature, which will be as vigorous as the new Europe which came out of the smelting pot of the Dark Ages [...]

"Cultural identification" :: how a culture or ethnic group is identified in the literary text.

In "Brick Lane" and "Letter III, What is an American?" we have several cultural groups identified in the text, white Europeans, Muslims, Bangladeshi, British, and so on. We know that's what they are because they're identified as such.

However, we know that every author chooses the images and vocabulary, metaphors, and so on--all the narrative techniques we can employ in crafting a story--with an eye toward achieving that particular effect or story. So, for instance, how is Muslims presented here, by what means, and to what effect?

That's what we mean by "cultural identification" and analyzing that culture.

How are those elements presented in these two texts, "Brick Lane" and "Letter III, What is an American?". By choosing one culture in each text (for example, Muslims and Americans), one can handle them in their respective texts. For instance, what does Crévecoeur do in defining American culture, and what does Ali do in defining British (or Bangladeshi) culture? Are they the same? Different? To what effect or what purpose?

One just needs to support one's argument with examples from the texts and understanding of the cultural context.

*The term America is used in this essay to mean the United States of America.

Five-paragraph essay on Crevecoeur —Letter III, What is an American— and Monica Ali's Brick Lane; Interdisciplinary Course with Cultural Studies, Benjamin Madeira, PDF ::

Crevecoeur —Letter III, What is an American— and Monica Ali Brick Lane, PDF - Official Website - BenjaminMadeira

What is an American? What is a Bangladeshi in Brick Lane? ::

In Letter III (1782) and Brick Lane (2004), both French-born American Crevecoeur and Bangladeshi-born British Monica Ali address the issue of belonging by portraying a definition of individuals’ identity on different environments. In both cases, their choice of setting serves to underline their ideological concerns. When attempting to find out what the authors’ stance is on national or individual identity, one can ask them out loud: should immigrants be one hundred percent Americans, British, without clinging to some of their native culture? In his arguments, James, the farmer, purports that immigrants lost their cultural roots and hence became Americans (Crevecoeur 54). Monica Ali, on the other hand, champions policies that have been adopted with the perspective of convergence to an endogenous, social cohesion, meaning “pluralist integration model,” which leads to uniformity.

The « melting pot » metaphor ::

By changing his name Michel-Guilluame-Jean de Crèvecœur to the Americanized James Hector St. John, French Crèvecoeur provides himself as an example in how the new race of men should act upon their arrival to the British colonies in America. Crevecoeur’s letter writer, a farmer named James Hector St. John, addresses a fictional English recipient in Letter III where he attempts to portray various perspectives of being an American; what the national identity this emerging American society should have. Crevecoeur was the first proponent of the American prototype encapsulated in the « melting pot » metaphor. This type of society would be a relatively heterogeneous entity that becomes increasingly homogenous as the varying elements met together to one harmonious whole that has a common or shared culture (Modood 3). In this American community “individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men" (Crevecoeur 55, emphasis added). Crevecoeur’s purpose in Letter III is to delineate a monolithic integration model, which is equated with cultural assimilation and acculturation rather than a multithreaded tapestry of immigrants in modern United States society (Crevecoeur 56).

Either a European, or the descendant of a European ::

According to James, most Americans were made up of a mixture of immigrants from some European ethnic groups, “a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes” (Crevecoeur 51) who, if they were "honest, sober and industrious" (Crevecoeur 91), would prosper in a welcoming land of opportunity (Crevecoeur 55). "[‘Where there is bread, there is my country’] is the motto of all emigrants," postulated James (Crevecoeur 54). The fictional narrator of the text, James, the American farmer, captures that the American, “this new man […] is either a European, or the descendant of a European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country” (Crevecoeur 54). According to the monolithic integration model advocated by Crevecoeur, those immigrants who left their homes, should ignore any ethnic heritage; they should strive to love their new country more than their country of origin, thus “[t]he American ought […] to love this country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born” (Crevecoeur 43, 55).

Immigrants did not have their own home culture ::

Hence, according to the monolithic integration model, the immigrants did not have their own home culture and were to embrace the dominant cultural aspects of this new white race in America (Martin 8). Immigrants are thus forced to share and use cultural aspects of the larger group so as to become culturally homogenous. As James, the farmer, advances, “[t]he American is a new man, who acts upon new principles. He must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions” (Crevecoeur 56). What defines Americans and British today would not be complete without mentioning the increasing pluralistic integration model where different cultures have adopted social cohesion while at the same time maintaining their cultures. The multiculturalists believe that homogeneity is to be achieved when each cultural group is recognized and treated on equal measure (Martin 8).

Monica Ali's Brick Lane ::

Brick Lane scrutinizes modern integration with a view to ethnic heritage. Readers will follow the story of Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi girl. She is a literary character that has depth, layers and can surprise the readers and convince them. She has ‘the incalculability of life’ about her (Forster 55); she is thus, a round character. Nazneen, at the age of eighteen is married off to Chanu, a forty year old Bengali man living in London, specifically on Tower Hamlets, a hidden place largely populated by immigrants from Bangladesh (Lane, n/p). Monica Ali utilizes diverse literary techniques when crafting her story on Bangladeshi-immigrant protagonist Nazneen. The author explores diverse themes; however, in order to elaborate shortly on this paper, the focus will be individual identity.

The Bengali community: an entity that depends on fate ::

Monica Ali begins portraying the Bengali community as an entity that depends on fate, destiny or predestination and as a consequence of this, they are passive when facing decisions in life. As the third person narrator advances: “‘[o]f course, Fate will decide everything in the end, whatever route you follow’” or “[…] you are destined to die of hunger […]” (Ali 14). Furthermore, by portraying Nazneen's mother as a saint and all her lineage, it is being implied that Nazneen is destined to be an obedient wife (Ali 80); if she suffers then she should be patient and silent within her own ethnic community and within multicultural Brick Lane. Therefore, she should know, integration cannot take place. The author depicts the Bengalis this way so as to plough the field, in Brick Lane, and thus, surprise her readers with Nazneen's changing identity while debating immigration and the pluralist integration model.

Interaction in local communities is a paramount aspect in human sociality ::

In order for an immigrant to become integrated into a society, interaction in local communities is a paramount aspect in human sociality, the Bangladeshi villager, however, remains ‘in a very sorry state’ in her apartment, refusing to shed all vestiges of her cultural heritage. She embodies what other Bengali immigrants feel while on British soil: “[t]heir bodies are here but their hearts are back there” (Ali 32). “In all her eighteen years, she could scarcely remember a moment she had spent alone. Until she married. And came to London to sit day after day in this large box with the furniture to dust, and the muffled sound of private lives sealed away above, below and around her” (Ali 24; Parekh 197).

Now our children are copying what they see here ::

Monica Ali attempts to portray the western –British– culture from East’s perspective in doctors Azad’s words: “[...] I saw two of our young men in a very sorry state” (Ali 31), explaining why immigrants should not become integrated in western society. Nazneen’s spouse corroborates it, as the male focalizer exemplifies that: "[...] for my part, I don't plan to risk these things happening to my children. We will go back [before [my] children [are] affected by Western habits]" (Ali 32). Doctor Azad regrets, "now our children are copying what they see here, going to the pub, to nightclubs. […] The problem is our community is not properly educated about these things" (Ali 31). In Brick Lane, Monica Ali concludes that ‘gradual fusion’ or metamorphosis should be every individual’s decision as is the case of Nazneen’s daughters. Newcomers should choose whether they want injection of regular doses of local culture or not (Parekh 197; Øien-Vikaune, Lesson 2, video: 24:09).

Individual identity is non-static ::

“Identity” is a topic of wide variety, but can be defined for this purpose as ‘their understanding of who she is, what she wants to be recognized as.’ The concept of individual identity is non-static, it changes all the time, and immigrants, such as Nazneen, struggle with an evolving identity within themselves (Bloom 52; Fearon 4-6). Monica Ali gives her readers the feeling of the emptiness and confusion in Nazneen’s live by placing 'dead grass,' 'broken paving stones' (Ali 17), and so on, in the pages of the immigration story. Such figurative language evokes vivid images that reveal characterization and reinforce Ali's themes while contrasting Nazneen's Bangladeshi village.

Nazneen goes on to establish an extra-marital affair ::

In Brick Lane, Nazneen meets obstacles, but she will demonstrate that she can overcome them by challenging the beliefs imposed on her that dictates that she is not the master of her own life. Since birth, Nazneen’s mother, Rupban, told her that it was pointless to oppose fate (Ali 14). On deciding to oppose her mother’s advice, Nazneen goes on to establish an extra-marital affair with Karim, a young Muslim from the same community, and their attraction between them destroys their moral expectations, and as time goes by, she gives up supporting her husband. Even after being almost half his life on British soil his heart is still in his country of origin; not even the tears of his daughters make the jingle of his own voice stop echoing: “[t]he pull of the land is stronger even than the pull of blood” (Ali 32). Nazneen takes her own decision on whether she will stay home or go back to the rice fields of rural Bangladesh. Unlike Chanu, Nazneen has finally being released from fate that kept her subjugated and silent for years. Nazneen can finally formulate questions and by acting this way she is even defying God’s will: “[i]f God wanted us to ask questions, he would have made us men" (Ali 80), Nazneen had been advised.

Conclusion ::

Societies change—for better or worse—and the United States also does; Great Britain is not the exception to the rule. While Crevecoeur argues for the idea of a monolithic integration, Monica Ali defends the idea that immigration is good for Britain but not the blending of many cultures, languages and religions to form a single national identity as articulated by Crevecoeur. As immigrants flourish in new societies, their identity changes from their country of origin to being progressively adjusted. As Monica Ali points out, immigrants change, perhaps it is a slowly process but it happens nevertheless (Ali, 2014, video 07:12-26). Immigrants will eventually become integrated in the host society as Nazneen’s daughters and eventually Nazneen herself did. Parekh concludes that “[...] minorities have a right to maintain and transmit their ways of life, and denying it to them is both indefensible and likely to provoke resistance” (197).


What is an American? Hector St. John Crevecoeur ::

Fuente: Youtube, Servicios de Internet | Source: Youtube, Video hosting service

Monica Ali's Brick Lane :

Fuente: Youtube, Servicios de Internet | Source: Youtube, Video hosting service

Immigration Is Good For Britain | Monica Ali :

Fuente: Youtube, Servicios de Internet | Source: Youtube, Video hosting service


• [1] Ali, Monica. Brick Lane, excerpt (chapters 1, 2 and 3). London: Black Swan, 2004. 11-80. Print.

• [2] Bloom, William. Personal Identity, National Identity, and International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1990. Print.

• [3] Crevecoeur J. Hector St. John de. Letters from an American Farmer. New York: Fox, Duffield and Company. (1904 [1782]). Print. Pp. 48-91.

• [4] Fearon, James D. What is identity? Stanford University. 1999. Print.

• [5] Forster, E. M. Aspects of the Novel. New York: RosettaBooks. 1927. Print. ISBN 0-7953-0952-X

• [6] Lane, Harriet. Ali's in wonderland. TheGuardian, 2003. Web. Retrieved on May 2015 from http://goo.gl/OYf4lI

• [7] Martin, Philip. Immigration and Integration: The US Experience and Lessons for Europe. Commission for Migration and Integration Research, Vol 16, 2007. 1-14.

• [8] Modood, Tariq. Remaking multiculturalism after 7/7. Open Democracy, 29(7). 2005. Web. Retrieved on May 2015 from https://goo.gl/5xT42r

• [9] Parekh, Bhikhu C. “Rethinking Multiculturalism : cultural diversity and political theory” in: Chapter 7: The Political Structure of Multicultural Society. 2000. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press. Print. ISBN: 0674004361
By an academic, for academics, using academic argument forms, and with an academics meanness of spirit.

• [10] Øien-Vikaune, Ane. Cultural Studies Unit 2: Race, and integration theory. Take Credit, NTNU: Lesson 2, 2015. Web. Retrieved on Feb 2015 from (Video) https://goo.gl/B8dZOM and (PDF) https://goo.gl/j0kSZN

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