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The central topic or theme explored in the two books is the assimilation of immigrants into the American system. Change and assimilation are a part of everyday life. After the massive immigration into the United States by Mexicans, change and assimilation was inevitable. Tomas and Courtney both discuss the changes that these immigrants undergo as they try to assimilate in the new country, they now must call home. They explain how these immigrants get culture shock when they get into this new country and how this influences their own individual cultures.
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Tomás R. Jiménez, in his book, talks in detail about the influx of the immigrants from Mexico and their impact. The major topic or theme explored in his book is how well the Mexicans have assimilated to the changes in their new home. Tomas greatest fear is that the Mexican culture is slowly being eroded by the modern times. The immigrants are forced to assimilate themselves seamlessly into society, and they slowly forget their culture. The demands modern society has of them outweighs the obligation they have to their culture, they have to work harder in order to support their daily needs. In the process of they lose their identities, to regain the identities they have to participate in social events involving their own kind. Events such as national holidays of their native countries should be seen as platforms for these activities.
Tomas Jimenez in his work looks at how the Mexican people are adapting in the modern society of the US. He notes that the community is slow in acclimatizing in the new society dynamics compared to their counterparts. Most of the Mexican population in the US can be attributed to immigration in search of better life opportunities. Immigration in this case, instills an inferiority complex thereby inhibiting their assimilation. Tomas quotes sociologists who describe Hispanicity: “it will become a symbolic identity rather than that of a disadvantaged minority”. (Jimenez, 2010) This positivity is encouraged, and it gives the Hispanics a sense of pride and belonging. The statistics to indicate their assimilation indicate that their economic and education progress is slow; this is a positive indication of their adaptation and overcoming their disadvantage of discrimination. Intermarriage is seen as a fundamental part of their assimilation, and the statistics support this; intermarriage rates are higher for each generation born in the US (Jimenez, 2010).
Robert Courtney tries to explain how a typical family in Peru lives in society and the struggles they undergo. He describes the Mexican community as having undergone some slight change with men out of the family picture leaving the children with their wives. He also talks about how these immigrants transform into common criminals once they reach their destination, in order to support their families. Courtney demonstrates that although the assimilation can either be positive or negative, however, we cannot be in a position to judge unless we take time to understand the immigrants day to day experiences. He urges readers to take time and first understand the immigrants reasons for leaving their homes as well as what they have had to endure as a result of their decision to move.
Immigrants undergo a lot of stress and hardships in their journey from their mother lands to their new destinations. First, it is important to note that immigrants do not leave their motherland by choice. Most of them are forced by circumstances to live, and most are least prepared for the things they encounter along the way. These experiences change them forever. Robert Courtney speaks the truth when he states that the only way we can ever truly understand the immigrants experience is through taking to them about it. Once these immigrants get to America, they feel the pressure to fit in and get accepted, hence they strive to assimilate. This is natural instinct that all animals have, the need to fit in and be acceptable. Thus, we cannot blame these immigrants when they mingle with others in the society, go to schools with our children as well as marry our friends and relatives. Assimilation is a survival technique adopted by immigrants so that they can fit into the society better, hence both authors should encourage rather than condemn it since it helps the immigrants to survive.
The major strength of both books is that they are based on research conducted over a period of years. Both authors talk about the hardships immigrants, especially of Mexican origin, undergo as they strive to assimilate in the new destinations. The data used to come to the said conclusions was based on ethnographic research conducted, which means that the books are accurate, hence reliable sources of information.