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Hardships in “You in America”

You believed that everybody in America had a car and a gun. Your uncles and aunts and cousins believer it too. Right after you won the American visa lottery, they told you, “In a month, you will have a big car. Soon, a big house. But don’t buy a gun like those Americans. They trooped into the shantytown house in Lagos, standing beside the nail-studded zinc walls because chairs did not go round, to say good bye in loud voices and tell you with lowered voices what they wanted you to send the”. (First Page, First couple of paragraphs)

Right from the start of the story, we get witness the narrators situation that she was placed in. She had won a lottery and was given a chance to start a life in America with her “uncle”.  Her family and relatives all thought that in America, everyone lives a happy and an easy life. You can get a car and a house, and begin living  a great life. They also asked the narrator for gifts (probably money, certain clothing brands, or even something bigger). I guess you can say that this was their ideal American Dream. Having a steady income and a bunch of accessories. Sadly that was just an illusion that was shattered by the reality after her arrival to America.

After moving to America, she realized how unfair and hard it was living there. Not even a week had past and her uncle took advantage of her and stated that “Smart women did it all the time, how did you think those women back home n Lagos with well-paying jobs made it ? ” That’s when she realized that “America was give and take” , you give up a lot and you gain a lot from it. The easy life that everyone at home thought she could have was thrown out after a week of her being in America. Nothing in life is gained by sitting around and doing nothing, especially in a country with a tremendous amount of people that are also trying to get by. Due to her race, it was even harder to find a decent job, so she can support herself and those that she left at home.

You can try and compare this text with “Quicksand”. The parts that were familiar was when Helga also defined by her race, was struggling to fit into other communities. This quote state by Dr.Anderson “Lies, injustice, and hypocrisy are a part of every ordinary community. Most people achieve a sort of protective immunity, a kind of callousness, toward them. If they didn’t, they couldn’t endure.” helps us see that no matter what place they went to, people judged them by their looks and race, and not by their personality/behavior. An ordinary person can easily judge someone else without even taking other aspects into consideration. Same goes for both Helga and the narrator from “You in America”, both of them had to somehow bypass all the things others thought of them, and try to find a place to settle down. Near the end, they both found something or someone but that was still far away from their ideal life that they were seeking.

Christelle. Contemporary Fiction. The Shawl by Louise Edrich

The story demonstrates two ways in which people cope with the death of a loved one. These two ways are of that of incrimination and or reflection. The coping with incrimination is seen through the father of the deceased girl. As evidenced in the passage “For a time, the boy had no understanding of what happened. His father kept what he knew to himself, at least that first year, and when his son asked about his sister’s torn plaid shawl and why it was kept in the house, his father said nothing” in this part of the passage that the father is unwilling to accept that his daughter is gone and continues to hold to this grief. “But he wept when the boy asked if his sister is cold. It was only after his father had been weakened by the disease that he began to tell the story, far too often and always the same way: he told how when the wolves closed on Anakwad had thrown her daughter to them” the father sees the death of his daughter was unjust and offers his son as well as himself an explanation as to why such an injustice could happen. In the father’s eyes, his daughter did not deserve to die and he could accept that is was perhaps by her own fault or the workings of the world. The coping with reflection is seen through the grandson. As evidenced in the story “She saw that the wolves were only hungry. She knew that their need only needed. She knew that you were back there, alone in the snow. She understood that the baby she loved would not live without a mother and that the uncle knew the way. She saw clearly that one person on the wagon had to be offered up, or they all would die” this refutes of that grandfather when he refuses to accept that his daughter’s die may come about naturally. Naturally in the sense that all things must die at one point and none of those things have to power to determine when, where and how. It also refutes the thinking that her death could not come about on her own doing. Sometimes situations arise that force us to make difficult decisions that make us comfortable, in the case of the daughter she had made the ultimate decision.  We should view these two coping mechanisms as right or wrong. Instead, we should view them as allegories to the all-consuming philosophical  question “What is life and why do we have to die?”


Exalted (Adjective) – In a state of extreme happiness.

Taken from Nella Larsen’s Quicksand, Chapter 19

“Helga Crane never forgot it. She had carried away from yesterday’s meeting a feeling of increasing elation. It had seemed to her that she hadn’t been so happy, so exalted, in years, if ever.“

In this context, Larsen used the word exalted to describe even further how elated Helga is to meet with Dr. Anderson whom she is attracted on.



Nasturtium –

(Noun) any of a genus (Tropaeolum of the family Tropaeolaceae, the nasturtium family) of herbs of Central and South America with showy spurred flowers and pungent edible seeds and leaves.

I found this definition on

i found this word in our new story Quicksand Nella  Larsen “on the shining brass bowl crowded with many-colored nasturtiums beside her on the low table, and on he low table, and on the oriental silk which covered the stool at her slim feet.“


Now I understand what was in her bowl. It kinda of gives us a feel of the type of person she is because she has bright colorful flowers in her house.


While reading Tam and Cam I expected a traditional story very similar to the American version of Cinderella but to my surprise it was quite funny and plot twisting. It was interesting that the author decided to have tam reincarnate and be re joined with her beloved husband. One familiarity I did notice was the festival or big gala that unites the prince and soon to be princess also the way they meet through the fitting of a shoe/slipper. Essentially another aspect of the story that was familiar to me was the fact common (to some) tradition that cultures like these tend to have tales that would involve animals with them playing a big role. For example, towards the end of the story the bird ended up coming back to speak with the step mother to remind her that she was, in fact, eating her daughter when she ate the mam. What I understand from Vietnams culture after reading this story is that reincarnation is a belief and that maybe karma is in fact a bitch. They value hard work and believe you will receive what you give I.e tam was a hardworking girl who did nothing but try to keep her step mother happy, tam need up I a happy mirage with riches while the step mother and sister were mean miserable people who made tams life a living hell so they where gifted death at the end. I especially enjoyed reading tam reincarnation into different things and still ending up by her husbands side happy beautiful and young; right when you think the story is over tam comes back and gets what she rightfully deserves. This version of Cinderella is far more interesting, entertaining than the American version which in my opinion is practicable. Reading tam and cam I did not know what was coming next.

The Hidden One/The Little Glass Slipper

The first story that I read was The Hidden One by Aaron Shepard. Which had similar storylines but the first difference I noticed was that it was two fully related sisters and the younger one as being tormented by the older one. She used to burn her with fire and chopped off her long hair so they started calling her Little Scarface. Another big difference was that there was an invisible man called the hidden one who was looking for his match and could only be seen by his true love and all the young woman wanted to be that. The hidden ones sister would test girls and turns out the younger sister was his true love. However she would’ve never known if she didn’t stand up to her sister and be brave enough to actually try. In the end she got the happily ever after because she was beautiful inside and out.


Another story that I read was The Little Glass Slipper by Charles Perrault. I realized this version of the story was extremely similar to the original Cinderella story that I grew up reading. The entire story was basically the same idea and concept but the details in the story were just a tad different. The details were pretty minor when you compare it to the entire story. Both the stories had the same protagonist which was the beautiful and kind Cinderella who was put in the same position. They were both challenged to deal with evil stepsisters who try and destroy cinderella because they are insecure with their own selves. This version was more condensed and the stepmom wasn’t really a main villain the step sisters were.

The most important part of both of these stories was that  a kind heart can get you so much and although people may confuse it for a weakness it’s actually the opposite. It actually takes a lot of strength to remain as sweet as they both did. Also they both have courage and bravery after a long day of hard work, Cinderella still finds the courage to say, “I may be treated like a housemaid, but I deserve to go to the royal ball, too!” She takes a chance to go with her stepfamily, even though it doesn’t end well. And even when that happens, she’s still risks a ride in a pumpkin carriage to spend time finally feeling the way she deserves. And Little Scarface was brave enough to stand up for herself and find her true love regardless of people bullying her. Despite their tough circumstances they still choose to be kind and brave, to preserve through any obstacle.