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The Americanization of Shadrah Cohen - Essay Example

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Name Date Course Section/# The Americanization of Shadrah Cohen One of the things that a person does when they come to a new culture is try to see the differences between the way that they are and the way that the culture they are living in exists…
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The Americanization of Shadrah Cohen
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Download file to see previous pages This is a basic human instinct to adopt standards, culture, norms, dress, and behavior in order to integrate into the society. The second is more active and requires that the person realize that they are different and actively try to change themselves in order to become more like their host culture. These changes are shown in people in a number of different ways. The story that has been read, “The Americanization of Shadrah Cohen” shows how these exact changes came to be manifested in the life of the young immigrant. This essay will follow these changes and help the reader to understand how they came to be shown within Shadrah Cohen over time. As the story begins, Shadrah Cohen came to the United States just like many tens of thousands of Jewish Russian emigres in and around the turn of the century. Having brought with him enough money to begin a small shop in lower New York, Shadrah along with his brother begin at the very bottom of American society and work to build their way up. Theirs is the immigrant story. The story itself is somewhat predictable and standard up until the arrival of Shadrah and his brother’s father from Russia. When the father sets foot on American land for the first time, he is a strange creature in what he sees as a foreign land. However, his sons meet him and have a different perspective; even though they are from the same ethnicity and the same country of origin. The father still wears his long side burns in the traditionally Jewish curly fashion, still wears the oversized long black coat that he wore in Russia, and has a very long, overgrown, beard. Due to the way that Shadrah has come to identify with his new environment and culture, he is a little bit embarrassed by the way that his father reminds him of the old country and his traditionally Jewish roots. As he greets his father on the docks, he and his brother are both dressed in Western clothing, wearing nicely pressed suits with a diamond tie clip. Accordingly, he offers his father to take him to a barber to have his traditional hair style cut as well as to take him to the clothing store to get him out of the traditional Jewish clothes he is wearing. In a way, his father probably reminds him of the way he looked when he first came to the United States and for this reason it embarrasses Shadrah to the point that he wants to change this as soon as possible. In a way, the story that is told is very close to the experience that many immigrants have. As they grow into a new culture, they begin to forget both actively and passively their cultural origins and traditions. This happens so much that when they are faced with the way that they used to look, used to dress, or used to behave they see it from a different perspective and are almost embarrassed with it. What is not discussed in the story is what ultimately happened with the father. Due to the fact that his sons both assimilated to such a high degree and in such a short period of time, one could assume that the father did so as well. However, the fact of the matter is that it is likely that the father, due to his age, would not so easily forget his culture or the roots that he has in the old country. Whereas both of his sons quickly tried to hide their identity and melt into the American culture, the father chose to hold on to his and represent who he truly was rather than putting forward a face that was not representative of his ethnicity or his culture. Work Consulted Lessing, Bruno. "Short Story: The Americanization of Shadrach Cohen." ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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