You are on page 1of 7

Layla 1

Layla / Xin Yan


ID2800-Writing
Prof. Lew
Literature Review
8/12/14

Inside Out and Outside In
The world is becoming increasingly globalized, which brings benefits of new
prosperity. Despite this it results in problems of confusion about self-identity and lacking
sense of belonging among people who transit between different cultures and nations. This
paper will cover how outside factors including peoples origins, how educational
environments affect their personal development and how people react critically to the
incongruity brought by their transition between identities on the ideological level. The
topic is brought up and developed in articles as follows: The Sanctuary of School by
Lynda Barry, The Good Immigrant Student by Bich Minh Nguyen, Lost in Time and
Words, A Child Begin Anew by Oscar Hijuelos, Mother Tongue by Amy Tan,
Persian, English by Jasmin Darznik, The Struggle To Be An All-American Girl by
Elizabeth Wong, and The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met A Girl Named Maria
by Judith Ortiz Cofer.
Layla 2

Self- identity and the outside environment have a reciprocal influence on each
other. Origin, one of external factors, is not optional and people will take it everywhere
they go. As is stated by Wong in her article The Struggle to Be an All-American Girl,
The language was a source of embarrassment. More times than not, I had tried to
disassociate myself from the nagging loud voice that followed me wherever I wandered
in the nearby American supermarket outside Chinatown.(303) She is more used to the
English-speaking environment but her origin kept having an influence on her even if she
was not brought up in China. Additionally, besides the point where ones self-identity
starts, the surrounding environment where a person is immersed in keeps shaping ones
characteristics and the inside world. Both similarity and difference can be found in how
early education plays its role in their childhoods in the articles of Barry and Bich. Barry
found her relief in school, which is shown in the article: that I realize I was crying
from relief.(70) She was in a family where it was incredibly easy for any child to slip
away. (70) So, for her identity school was an important part to find her right place and
build up her confidence. For Bich, early bilingual education and her family also made her
aware of her identity as a special Vietnamese refugee. As she puts it, This only
propelled me to try harder to be good, to make up for everything I felt was against me:
my odd family, my race, my vary face. (90) Unlike Barrys school where she found her
relief, the bilingual school Bich went was a place full of battles. Battles involved the
special attention drawn to her, the fear of being called on in class, and the struggle to
compete for the stuffed lion. Without a loving and considerate teacher leading her in a
correct and kind way as Barry had, Bich was shaped into a wordless, hardworking,
sensitive girl. Therefore, from these contents, significant influence exerted from the
Layla 3

outside to the inside, or in other words from the environment to the internal person, is
revealed here.
Another perspective can be a reversed process that people change themselves
according to psychological reasons, or in other words, peoples behaviors adjust. How
people think towards his or her life, towards changes of oneself or even the changes
brought by the cultural context does have something to do with their behaviors. In his
article Lost in Time and Words, A Child Begins Anew, Oscar Hijuelos described his
experience of becoming alienated from Spanish, his mother tongue, after a year of
hospitalization in an English-speaking environment. After something disappointing
happened because of his unwillingness to speak Spanish, Oscar finally came to the point
that, when I heard Spanish, I found my heart warming. (133) Later through his process
of writing, he also came to know himself better from the inside. Oscar handled the
problem through writing, a process that brings self awareness and discovery. Also a more
frequent transition between identities is shown in Jasmin Darzniks article Persian,
English. For her, transitions between these two languages simply mean different
identities. She would play the role of the forever deferential and soft-spoken daughter
when she speaks Persian resulted from the Muslim culture. She would behave more
bashful, sweet, and polite. (142) Instead of Persian she found it easier to come up with
ideas out of her mouth in English. (142) So, Persian is the language of intimacy and
emotions while English is the language of logic and thinking for her. She described it as
forked tongues and split selves, which are all what happened inside her. Those
feelings led to her differentiated behaviors. So as is discussed above, the identity that one
defines for him/herself has a behavioral effect inside out.
Layla 4

Critical thinking is involved in these sources, showing criticisms about
stereotypical opinions of people towards certain cultural groups. For example, in the
article Mother Tongue by Amy Tan, she broke the stereotypical thoughts that people
who speak broken English deserve less respect. As she pointed out, the fact that
people in department stores, at banks, and at restaurants did not take her seriously, did not
give her good service, pretend not to understand her, or even acted as if they did not hear
her. (136) However Amy also spoke broken English with her mother or even with her
husband at home, which indicates a kind of intimacy. She even used her mother as her
intended audience for her stories. Similar criticism is raised by Cofer in the article The
Myth of the Latin Women: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria. The stereotype here is that
the Hispanic women as the hot tamale or sexual firebrand. (310) As a result of the
Latin culture, their young girls are dressed up attractively with jewelry, which men
outside their culture will misunderstand as a come-on. The problem is that people tend
to believe Latinos mature early so that they are treated with less respect especially in
sexual relationship. Her solution and reaction to this stereotype is a generous smile when
she was mistaken as a waitress in her luncheon for her first published poetry. Her
criticism is aimed at disproving the stereotypical way of other people who do not belong
to a certain cultural identity to judge someone only by the origin and identity and then
behave inappropriately.
In conclusion, both inward and outward influences take place when people transit
their identities and they affect each other interactively at the same time. Meanwhile, in
response to these influences, people struggle for a liberal understanding towards their
identities based on others reactions. Although constrained and stuck, people are still on
Layla 5

their way to figure out their identities and who they really are in spite of frequent
transitions between cultures and languages.
















Layla 6

Work Cited
Barry, Lynda. The Sanctuary of School. The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas.
8
th
ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. New Jersey: Pearson,
2014. 69-71. Print.
Cofer, Judith Ortiz. The Myth of the Latin Women: I Just Met A Girl Named Maria.
The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. 8
th
ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and
Stephen R. Mandell. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014. 308-312. Print.
Darznik, Jasmin. Persian, English. The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. 8
th
ed.
Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014.
140-143. Print.
Hijuelos, Oscar. Lost in Time and Words, a Child Begins Anew. The Blair Reader:
Exploring Issues and Ideas. 8
th
ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R.
Mandell. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014. 131-134. Print.
Nguyen, Bich Minh. The Good Immigrant Student. The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues
and Ideas. 8
th
ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. New Jersey:
Pearson, 2014. 87-94. Print.
Tan, Amy. Mother Tongue. The Blair Reader: Exploring Issues and Ideas. 8
th
ed. Ed.
Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014. 134-139.
Print.
Layla 7

Wong, Elizabeth. The Struggle to be an All-American Girl. The Blair Reader:
Exploring Issues and Ideas. 8
th
ed. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R.
Mandell. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014. 302-304. Print.