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Asian American Experience

Asian American Dreams - Week 6 Lecture

The shift to Asian American Dreams is also a shift westward, including the "Pacific Rim" which serves as the bridge connecting "Asian and American political and economic interests" (Asian 2). While Asian Americans have fared better in socio-economic terms than African Americans or Hispanic Americans, conflict and struggle for identity within Asian culture between generations seems to be a major focus of Asian American interpretations of the American Dream. Superstition in older generations of Asians and ancestors serve as "ghosts" for many Asian Americans like Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston, ghosts which must often be exorcised by younger generations of Asians to take their place and mark their identity as Asians, Americans and as Asian Americans. Such memories and stories often constrain and inspire younger generations as they achieve their own, distinct, identity in American culture.

Wayne Wang's "The Joy Luck Club"

Wayne Wang's film version of Amy Tans The Joy Luck Club shows the struggles of young Asian Americans and older generations as they come to terms with forging an identity in mainstream American culture. Freedom for young Asian Americans often entails breaking free of the past and the rigid control of an older generation. In the stories of four women who migrated from pre-revolutionary China to San Francisco, we see how the past becomes what is in the present. June is a daughter of one of these Mah Jong playing women, and we see in the struggle between the older generation and the younger generation that shows how the hopes of one generation can become restraint and inspiration for the next. The older women are not happy with their "Americanized" daughters who to them live in cold, modern houses and have the impudence to marry whites with bad table manners.

Yet when we finally learn the secrets of what these women endured...

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