The Native Speaker examines the uneasy assimilation Henry Park who is a young Korean-American man against the backdrop of New York culture. The native speaker story identifies the generation of Henry Park who is a Korean American on a whirlwind search for meaning and identity. The novel begins where Henry has reached the crossroads. Leila who is Henrys wife, is going on a vocation to seek time away from their marriage. Leila gives him a list of his faults before she boards a plane. Henrys professional life is also suffering as he is a spy for a company where he gathers information about anyone at a price. Identity is a common theme in this book, and Henry fails to identify himself although other people identified him efficiently like Leila and his father. Henrys failure to assimilate on an individual level results to his failure in assimilating to the familial role which further leads to his failure of assimilating to an effective role in the society.
The roles we play in our families play a significant role in defining us. Both the private and public life of Henry needs him to exist in different families. However, Henry does know his real identity. Henry had difficulty in speaking both American and Korean languages. The reason is that he split both the two languages. There is the part where Henry said that the person sang in excellent English. This text shows that a few of the things that Henry wanted was to speak perfect English for him to be part of at least one group. He was born in Pacific although his real home is in Korea. Henrys failure to identify himself makes him a Korean American although he does not know the cultures of the two countries well.
Henry wanted to be identified in at least one group. This issue is indicated in the text where Henry said that someone sang in excellent English. He envied the person who sang in good English because Henry had difficulty in speaking both Korea and American languages. Additionally, Henry could not even pronounce the name of his imaginary brother in Korea yet that was his home country. In the novel, it is evident that Henry Park spends his life to become a Native American. His Korean identity seems to flow as his adopted country evade him. The harsh upbringing of Henry makes him hide his emotions and feel the growing sense of alienation. Furthermore, when he is given the job of spying on the American Korean politics, he finds out more information concerning the people in his surroundings which was the real test of his identity.
The theme of identity is also explored in this book for the immigrants who stand between two cultures as Henry. He stands between Korea and America. The author describes how the non-Caucasian immigrants find later that the identity of their generations is challenged. This issue is evident where Mitt took advantage of Henry although he was seven years old. Additionally, Henry equates the mystery of language to identity. He is unable to speak both the Korean and American languages. This issue of language identity makes Henry feel that he does not belong to any group which is his wish. The language of immigrants is used to identify their code of dressing and physical appearance. Although Henry has the physical features of a Korean, he tries to speak English better than the Native Americans after assimilating their culture.
The book depicts Henry who is a typical Korean- American. Although Henry legally lived in America, his mind was surrounded by the Korean beliefs. He had a Korean personality, and his physical identity was also of a Korean. All the things that Henry had learned from his Korean father are reflected in his current adult life. Furthermore, he felt like a stranger and an emotional alien while trying to connect himself to become a native America. He fails to identify himself because he feels total isolation from the country he resides in which is America. Even though he was Americanized, he had trouble while trying to adapt the American beliefs, behaviors, and cultures. He failed to acclimate them because they are entirely different from the ones in Korea. Assimilating to another culture may turn to be a difficult situation as the people in the culture one wants may be racist. The issue of racism may affect ones process of assimilating to another culture. Therefore, Henry also suffered from racial identity while conducting his job as a spy and residing in New York.
The root of Henrys problem lies oh his profession of being a spy. He grows in the different assignment and gets attached to them as time grows. Getting attached to the tasks allows Henry to feel the illusion of the familial connection because the entire bond lies in deceit. The spying job is not based on moral values. However, this post gave Henry a chance of knowing his true identity with the people in his surroundings. He interacted with different individuals while conducting the job. Although Henry is a Korean immigrant, he tends to shed most of the cultural foundations of his home country to hence his achievement of political assimilation in the United States. Unfortunately, he finds difficulties while conducting this job since he is unable to identify his true identity.
Everyone can describe Henry Park including his boss, creator, legend, and father. The reason is that the story begins with a list of the characteristics written by his estranged wife. All the important characters in the novel have the ability to identify Henry, but he is the one who fails to recognize himself. Therefore, Henry choses to believe on what should comprise of a Korean man. Henry fails to recognize himself as he had difficulty in speaking both Korea and American language and practicing the culture of the two countries. He extinguishes the origin of his true identity as he says that there is no single accurate version where the other individuals are copies of distortions. However, the aim of Henry is to assimilate to an American. Although he tries this by practicing their language and culture, he fails along the way because he also practices the Korean culture. Practicing the two cultures makes him not to have an identity of either a Korean or an American. Thus, he referred to himself as a Korean- American.
The failure of Henry to identify himself reflects in the way he manages his family especially his relationship with Leila, his wife. The novel begins with Leila going for a trip and she gave Henry the list of who he was before leaving. Most of the characteristics provided by Leila are negative but in chapter 14 which was my primary reading Leila says that her father loved Henry despite their marriage conflict. The features identified by Leila shows henrys conflict of being pulled into different directions by a lot of influences. The real item in the list that speaks about the issues Henry had is poppas boy. In most of the cases, Henry looked for the figure of his father that is the reason why he had difficulty in assimilating into a society or family. Furthermore, he had so many father figures with different interest which would both please and displease other individuals. Although leaving a person is strictly against his nature, he is usually forced. Additionally, Henry fails to fit in any family while he tries to fit in all of them. This issue is evident with the way he is unable to speak both Korean and American English. It is because of this that he admires the person who sings in excellent English. He also wishes to speak good English. Therefore, assimilation played a significant role in making Henry have difficulty in identifying himself.
Henry is unable to define who he is in the real sense because he does not know his true homeland. He was born on the airplane over the Pacific. Although his childhood home was founded in in the Korean morals, they stayed in America. Although Henry asserts that he is an American, in some parts of the novel he becomes a Korean due to cultural amalgamation. Furthermore, he is deficient of the cultural root myths as his story does not reveal where he is strictly an American or a Korean. Additionally, Henry is anomalous category because of his failure to fit in any of the cultures. Moreover, he is unable to different the sound and bad practices in the various cultures since he only knows proximity to the definition. Therefore, he only picks what he thinks a Korean- American man should practice.
In conclusion, the Native speaker novel plays an important role on the issue of assimilation and identity. Henrys failure to assimilate on an individual level results to his failure in assimilating to the familial role which further leads to his failure of assimilating to an effective role in the society. Henry does not know his real identity. Therefore, he practices both the American and Korean culture although he ends up doing what is expected of a Korean- American man. Furthermore, Henry has difficulty in speaking both American and Korean languages. The reason is that he split both the two languages. However, Henry desires to be identified in at least one group, and this is evident through his admiration of the person who sang in excellent English. The failure of Henry to identify himself reflects in the way he manages his family especially his relationship with Leila, his wife. Additionally, Henry equates the mystery of language to identity. This issue of language identity makes Henry feel that he does not belong to any group which is his wish. Conversely, the aim of Henry is to assimilate to an American. Although he tries this by practicing their language and culture, he fails along the way because he also practices the Korean culture. Practicing the two cultures makes him not to have an identity of either a Korean or an American. Thus, he referred to himself as a Korean- American.
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