Laura L. Mobley-May
Instructor: Kim Edwards
Minority Literature
18 March 1999
A Lifetime of Journeys
Journey is an important theme found in Asian American works. Although journey, by travel from one place to another is a common form of journey, the journey through life in search of success is also an important theme. In Asian American Literature, an anthology by Shawn Wong, who has been recognized for his works ofpublished poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews there are many references to journeys. Why does journey play such an important part of the lives of Asian Americans?What
kinds of journeys does the literature of Asian Americans depict? What is the significance of journey in Asian American pieces?
Journey is important to Asian Americans, because like so many other cultures,
they too, are in search of a better way of life. The American Dream, is what everyone
desires to achieve. The opportunity to make a good living and the freedom that America
claims to offer is enough to entice anyone. The Blossoming of Bongbong in Asian
American Literature, by Jessica Hagedon, who is from the Philippines and came to the
United States in 1962 and has published work, is about a character named Antonio
Gargazulio-Duarte who makes his way to America in search of the American Dream.

Antonio, also known as Bongbong, wanted to realize his dreams and felt that he would
never achieve them in Manila.Bongbong finally left Manila on a plane for San
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Francisco. He was deathly afraid (Wong 203). Even though Bongbong was fearful
of what he might find in America, he was determined to go after the opportunities he
Journeys take many forms in the writings, plays, movies and art of Asian
Americans. Journeys are taken from native countries to America, from one place to
another in America, and the life spent trying to succeed or actually succeeding in their
dreams. For instance, in Cathy Songs poem The Youngest Daughter it says She
knows I am not to be trusted, even now planning my escape (381). The child in this
poem desires escape from herself and her family, especially her mother. Then in the play
The Music Lessons, by Wakako Yamauchi, who is a second generation Japanese
American woman, she describes the suffering, hardships and the adapting that the first
generation and successive generations of women from Japan had endured in the United
States beginning in the early 1900s.Aki Sakata, who is a fifteen year old female
character in the play wants a better life for herself. She is fearful she will endure the
same type of hardship her mother was experiencing. Aki tells her motherI know about
them and I dont want to stick around and become the kind of woman you are (445).
Aki believes that a much older man then herself would provide her opportunity to escape
the hard work of farming that her mother must do to provide for her and her two brothers.

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Another form of journey takes place in the movie Sister, Double Happiness, written and
directed by Mina Shun, when Jade who yearns to become an actress rebels against her
familys morals and traditions. Her wishes to become an actress are extremely
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unacceptable by her father. Both her parents were constantly trying to persuade her to
explore something else. Jade struggles to find her identity and to fit in. It was
unacceptable in this family to move from home before being married and if you did, as in
Jades decision to do so, you were disowned and denied a return home. Jade left her
family to seek out her dream and her father took her house key from her, so that she
would not be able to come home. Asian Americans Literature depicts many forms of
journey and they are similar to one another, yet they are individual journeys for

Journey is significant to Asian American literature, because of the desire to
succeed and fit in. This is something that I think everyone wants, whether they are
Asian, Hispanic, African American or of any other cultural background. I know that I
want to succeed and I want to fit in some where. Goals are important and one must make
a journey if they are to reach their goal. The journey does not have to be a physical move
from one place to another, it can be a journey of the mind, but indeed a journey must be
My step-grandmother, who is from the Philippines made several journeys
throughout her life and continues to make journeys. She was educated in the Philippines
where she received her teaching degree. She came to the United States where she taught
for over thirty years at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California. It was at
this school that she received fulfillment in teaching Asian minorities. Her teaching
career ended shortly after a shooting that occurred on the play yard where she was
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scheduled to be on yard duty that day, but had switched with another teacher. This act
of violence, that was undisputedly directed at Asians, was her sign that she would retire.

It shook our whole family up, that this could or would ever happen right here in our very
own town. She now travels the world seeing as many countries and places a year that she
can with her husband, who is Caucasian. The difference she made to the children in that
school took nearly a lifetime and I see the joy it has brought to her life.

Journeys take many forms and it is an important message conveyed in Asian
American literature, because it is something we all must endure to reach our goals.
I hope to make many journeys in my life down the road of success, just as those of a
minority background do. Journeys, however, are not always for the best and they do not
always turn out how they were planned, but it is the journey which makes us stronger and
enables us to learn from our mistakes. The message of journey in the Asian American


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