Cultures are powerful, and they are often unconscious. As a foreigner lives in a strange country, one wonders how life will treat him. To assimilate into the country’s culture means people have to abandon their original culture (LeBaron 1). If someone abandons their culture, they will lose their identity slowly. The book The Prince of Los Conuyos by Richard Blanco is about Richard and his family who come to America from Cuba. In order to reach a better life they move into America, but the reality of life in America is not as good as they expect. Blanco and his family struggle to retain their cultural heritage while keeping their American identity. In this process, the author feels loss; he wonders who he is and where he belongs (Blanco 3). In addition, different cultures and languages make it hard to understand American culture and lifestyle. Different cultural backgrounds also caused conflict between two generations of a family (Blanco 2). Through his memoir, Richard Blanco demonstrates how immigrating to a new country leads to the conflict of generations as well as cultural conflict. As a result, one’s identity gets disturbed in the process.
In 1968, Richard Blanco’s parents emigrated from Cuba. They first arrived in Madrid. Here Blanco was born in a hospital run by Catholic nuns (Penelope 1). A few days after Richard’s birth, the family took a flight to the United States of America. Upon arrival, they settled in a close-knit community of Cuban exiles in Florida. Blanco was raised up and educated in Miami. He studied civil engineering and a M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida International University (Blanco 2). The book Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Infancy is a narrative of Blanco’s family struggles to retain its cultural customs while adopting its new American identity (Penelope 1). This story includes features and episodes, intimately and fantastically issued. The issue is poignant to both the parents and siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, and the overall clan. Blanco demonstrates that the price of becoming an American implies suffering from feelings of loss and displacement plus finding oneself caught in the middle, not knowing how to identify oneself (13).
Blanco wonders about his belonging, whether he is a Cuban or Cuban-American, or an American gringo. An identity crisis then develops (LeBaron 1). The new American immigrants find themselves torn in between being American or their indigenous nationalities. For instance Blanco says “I am American, I want to have a real Thanksgiving year like this, but his grandmother say he is Cuban born in America” (14). Additionally, the grandmother refuses to go to Winnie Dixie a store considered American. Blanco’s grandma says that she does not belong to America (Blanco 15). To the old mother, the family is not American but Cuban, as a result, should not touch anything that has to do with America (Blanco 15).
Not only did the author get nationalities identify problems but also sexual identities (LeBaron 1). Caught as he is between two worlds, Blanco wonders from a young age about who he is because his likes and hobbies do not belong to the masculine gender. Initially, his grandmother becomes suspicious and disapproves this character. She monitors his hobbies and later bribes Ricky to serve as the date of the Spanish girl’s 15th birthday celebration and passage into adulthood (Blanco 17). Despite his grandmother’s absence, Blanco investigated himself. He thinks twice, for example on that family vacation, about skipping in excitement on his way to Cinderella’s castle (Blanco 19). However, this self-examination becomes hugely difficult for the author to understand. All Blanco’s struggles to hide his urges and to assume heterosexual traits make some of the most intense scenes in the book (LeBaron 1). After all, Blanco openly accepts the significance of family in shaping and defining who he is today (23). In one of his most powerful dialogues in the manuscript, he notes that the family made him their prince and loved him before he knew how to adore not only anyone but also himself (Blanco 23).
Secondly, immigrants face language problems in their new territories. Indeed, there are other misunderstandings with many of them caused by the language barrier. The barriers put the immigrants at a demerit with service providers who treat them like unwanted strangers (LeBaron 1). These service providers fail to treat the immigrants like new Americans who deserve compassion and dignity as any other human being (LeBaron 1). For example, the author reports that his father once tried to make himself understood after pumping gas at a self-service station, and he kept on repeating “Winchilwacher” (Blanco 24). The incident caused the entire family to feel embarrassed by the father’s terrible English (Blanco 24).
The author notes that the clerk’s blank look turned to one of disdain who responded by “Listen, mister, I can’t understand one iota of what you have been saying. You People need to get learning English; you are in America” (Blanco 24-25). Blanco states that his Papa became humiliated just the same way the family had felt embarrassed (Jackson 2). Indeed, language is one of the strongest barriers to accessing services. The shortage of trained bilingual service such as health care providers in the mental health/substance abuse section makes the problem more complicated. The shortage makes it hard for the limited English proficient immigrants to obtain appropriate services (LeBaron 1). Research show that language barriers limit access to healthcare at all levels.
Thirdly, animal and bird domestication is also a point of conflict. America does not allow one to raise chicken in the backyard as Cuba does (Jackson 1). Accordingly, when Ricky’s grandfather raised poultry and rabbits in America, officials from Miami-Dade Animal Control became alerted by the backyard neighbor. Following this alert, he was forced to kill the chickens and rabbits (Blanco 26). The action destroyed his last link to his old life in Cuba. In Cuba, loss of farm means loss of Cuban culture (Blanco 26). Accordingly, immigrants’ parents have complex difficulties in adapting to new homes. Such individuals have to adjust to a new culture and make sure that their old religion does not fade away (LeBaron 1). As a result, there emerges an inconsistency amongst the juvenile members of the family and the elder members. This happens because the young are quick and faster to run and embrace everything about the new and exciting life while forgetting their origin (Jackson 2). Mixed emotions keep the elder of the family held up in between.
Additionally, there is also an introduction to new cultures and habits (LeBaron 1). Such habits and holidays as Thanksgiving are new to the authors’ family. The family does not understand anything about Thanksgiving because it is a new culture in the family (LeBaron 1). More than decades after going to America, in the year 2013, Blanco had an opportunity to perform as the 5th inaugural poet of the United States of America. By this, the author followed the footsteps of the great writers, such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. Blanco stood to deliver his opening poem, “One Today,” and the mother sat beside him on the platform (Jackson 2). Among the guests, there were former heads of states, judges of the supreme courts, ambassadors, and other state leaders. All these were very far away from the home she had left four decades ago in Cuba. When he read the particular poem, none of the family understood it. In fact, the Grandmother did not know anything about Thanksgiving (LeBaron 1).
The immigrants also do not understand the monuments and the meaning in the new world (LeBaron 1). As such, they seem to doubt whenever the truth about the monuments is told to them. In fact, to some extent, the immigrants think that the informants do not know anything about such monuments (Blanco 25). The incidents leave the immigrants in an embarrassing state because they end up finding that they are wrong in many cases. Blanco’s more poignant memories rotate around here. For example, the author at some point discovered that the iconic Disney castle with its ostentatious display of “turrets and gold-leafed spires,” was an empty building meant only for a show (Blanco 25).
In addition, Blanco’s frustration putrefied into obscurity when he inquired from lady how he should get inside. However, the woman told him that the castle had nothing inside, and one could not go up there the monument (Penelope 2). At this response from the woman, the author became convinced that either she had lied to him or, as a new employee, she did not know about the monument. His mother also got upset and promised the woman that they were not going to leave the scene until they got inside (Blanco 25).
Moreover, the author also presents generational conflicts that emerged in the event of his migration. Born in Spain, Blanco grew up in America, while his parents were born in Cuba and they grew up in Cuba (Blanco 3). The author also notes that he and his brother hated the Cuban music. On the other hand, the parents loved the Cuban music. He gives an incident in which they traveled to the Disney World in his father’s treasured Chevy Malibu. Throughout the journey, Blanco and the brother Caco had to suffer because the parents sang along to Celia Cruz and Julio Iglesias on an eight-track player (Penelope 21). The incident forced the boys to plug their ears with Bazooka bubble gum.
In conclusion, adjusting to the different culture, values, traditions, and often language is a great obstacle to any immigrant. One has to discard his long-time held traditions and embrace an entirely different and new culture while balancing their old identity. In addition, immigrants face numerous challenges at every point of their daily life. Furthermore, people look down upon the immigrants for having funny accents or simply because they have a different dress code that the new people perceive as barbaric and outdated.
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