Typical American By Gish Jen Essay

1507 Words Dec 9th, 2015 null Page
Typical American by Gish Jen demonstrates the different struggles that a traditional immigrant family encounters. The book being discussed will be explained by means of historical influences and biographical influences during Jen’s life that affected the novel. This essay will also contain a critical analysis of the book and an analysis to the critical response from others.
Yifeng Chang, who later Americanized his name by changing it to Ralph, left behind his father, mother, and older sister in Shanghai. Ralph came to the United States to further his education in engineering in hope of a better life. Yet, he promised to never become the stereotypical American. Through the rest of Gish Jen 's novel, the Chinese family struggles and rebuilds in New York. Secret affairs between them tears the family apart. Financial issues also create havoc for everyone. Ralph underreported his income from his fried chicken restaurant to make more money; lying and cheating his way to achieve the “Typical American” lifestyle. Gish Jen created a story of the clash of Chinese culture and American society. In contrast, Jen has created this story to show that success through hardship is possible, and that the “American Dream” is achievable for everyone.

1. Historical Influences
At the beginning of the novel, Ralph Chang and his sister Theresa are sent to the United States by their wealthy parents to escape political problems in China during the late 1940’s. In times of communism and war, many…

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