Hostility or Hospitality
After moving from Nigeria to the US girl, Ralindu, and her mother, Chika, were faced with a difficult choice connected to their new environment. They stand between two very diverse cultures. Ralindu decides to fit into norms of the US while Chika refuses to accept them. Author of the story“My mother, Crazy African”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie throws light upon national identity problem of immigrants in the USA. Central theme in her story deals with the conflict between two members of the family that believe in the superiority of different cultures.
This story took place in the US, in the country where the problem of national identity is urgent. The US is not only a place where many people with totally different systems of beliefs live, but it is also a country of destination for many migrants. That's why the story must be of great interest to American reader. Besides, descriptive informal diction with simple language makes the text easy for comprehension. This story may really happen because every immigrant in the USA faces the same obstacles as the main characters. In addition, the narrator of the story, Ralindu, has a lot in common with the author. Chimamanda migrated from Nigeria to the US as well as Ralindu. Moreover, the writer is usually called Amanda while her character is called Lin.
On the one hand, love to one culture and one nation makes a group of people more united and willing to help each other, but from the other hand, it makes them more aggressive and hostile to representatives of another culture. For instance, Chika always criticizes the US and its citizens. Her daughter noticed, “She still likes to end observations with “America!”(Adichie 54). Chika always tries to find something bad in the USA. To illustrate, she does not welcome her husband's colleagues who have another nationality. She speaks Igbo, her native language, with her husband when guests are in. When her husband asks her to be more polite with guests and speak English in their presence, she answers, “So now I cannot speak my language in my own house?”(Adichie 54). Nevertheless, she likes to receive visitors of Nigerian origin. She is so hospitable to them that she allows them to stay a few days in her house. Thus, prejudice against culture of the USA limits her field of view and increases her enmity towards people from other nations.
Conflict between Chika and her daughter is unavoidable because both of them are too obstinate in their beliefs. Ralindu often uses irony while describing her mother or talking about Nigerian culture. Her mother creates small Nigerian world with an authoritarian regime in her house. Chika follows norms of her own culture and forces other members of the family to follow them too. Her daughter and husband are obliged to speak Igbo and eat her dishes that always “have a Nigerian base”(Adichie 55). Good illustration of irony is the moment, when Chika advises Ralindu not to eat in the house of her friend Cathy because Cathy's family might think that Ralindu does not have enough food at home. So Chika and her daughter are in strenuous relationships. Ralindu usually does not like how her mother acts. As long as Ralindu knows all details of Cathy's life, she often compares the behavior of her and Cathy's mother. When Cathy's period began, “her mother said oh and they went out and bought pads and panties”(Adichie 57). For Cathy's mother, menstruation means start of the problems while it could be implied that it is a great happiness for Ralindu's mother. Author uses situational irony to describe how Chika reacted on news about period. It is said that she hugged Ralindu as though she “won a big race” (Adichie 57) and said that menses mean that Ralindu would give birth to children.
As opposed to her mother Ralindu adjusted to American culture. Now the USA is home for her. Girl is ashamed that she has Nigerian roots and Nigerian accent. When her best friend Cathy tells her that she should be proud of her country, Ralindu ironically answers, “I am proud of America” (Adichie 56). Girl tries to prove to people that she is American. As an example, when her boyfriend, Matt comes to her home, she pretends that she does not understand Igbo very well. She makes a pause after her mother has asked her a question in Igbo. Nevertheless, in the end of the story, it becomes clear that all the efforts of Ralindu to keep Matt with her by showing him that she is American are useless. Matt is interested in any other girl as much as in Ralindu whom he still considers African. To sum up, Ralindu who follows norms of one culture and does not want to accept norms of another culture risks to lose her individuality.
People, who are blind with hatred to other nationalities, are unable to make their own decisions. They do what they have to do. They are even ready to do harm to their own children for the sake of some principle. In the rising action of the story, mother intends to punish her daughter for dissipated behavior in a very rude way. The author uses imagery to create fear by writing, “her lips are clenched tight” (Adichie 58). In this piece, the reader is kept in suspense. Mother does not fulfill a threat, but her intimidation made girl frighten out of existence. Ralindu pees into the mattress. It is very strong part of the story because a mood changes very dramatically from joyful to troubling and the reader does not expect such development. This part of the story shows that unwillingness to understand the behavior of others ruins not only Chika's personality, but also it ruins consciousness of her daughter.
Author's key message is that people could learn a lot from other cultures and Cathy symbolizes a mediator between two countries, two cultures and two people. She is American, but still she is interested in other cultures. She tries to learn something new from them. Cathy is open-minded, and she understands that exchange of cultural heritage brings a lot of benefits to all the people. She enjoys talking with Nigerians that sometimes stay at Ralindu's house. Ralindu thinks “Cathy has too much sympathy” (Adichie 55) to Nigerians and she even helped to employ one of them. Cathy explores traditions of others while Ralindu and Chika pass judgments on them. Cathy is in good relationships with Chika and Ralindu. The author demonstrates that unwillingness to accept others makes people blind to the world around them.
In conclusion, the central theme of the story is that both mother and daughter run in extremes while they should find intermediate space. Tolerance and respect to representatives of other cultures would help them to develop a better understanding of their own culture and history. It is also the way to understand their selves. The story inspires the reader to be alive thinking personality without religious, racial or any other bigotry.
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