“Mericans” by Sandra Cisneros and “In Response to Executive Order 9066” by Dwight Okita are the two works that have a common theme of the way people of different cultures lived in the United States in the twentieth century. The first story describes Mexicans, and the second poem is about the Japanese – both of the nations were under American pressure that influenced the culture of these countries’ migrants. This essay aims to compare the two works and discuss how each author develops the theme of cultural identity using specific literary devices and techniques.
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“Mericans” is a biographical poem written by Sandra Cisneros, recalling her childhood and how two different cultures co-existed in her life. The author uses Micaela’s point of view as a literary tool to provide a reader with the way children felt in their cultural motherland conditions. There is a metaphor, “an awful grandmother,” that points to the fact that the girl is not fond of her grandmother and of the whole Mexican cultural environment. Many descriptions and Spanish words included show the culture more brightly. Additionally, the author adds American slang in children’s speech when they identify themselves: “We are Mericans” (Cisneros, 1992, p. 67). The story reveals the way children with Mexican roots denied this culture because of their American lifestyle.
“In Response to Executive Order 9066: All Americans of Japanese Descent Must Report to Relocation Centers” is a poem by Dwight Okita, and its main character is a girl with Japanese roots. The title is the exposition providing the poem’s background. Dwight Okita uses a girl’s point of view as a literary device to describe how the Japanese felt about the order and show that she generally identifies with American culture. Moreover, there is a strong use of simile in describing the character and her best friend: their activities are common, and they both have non-American last names. The girl does not know how to deal with turning into an enemy of her best friend: “I didn’t know what to say” (as cited in Gale, Cengage Learning 2016, p. 14). This also highlights political influence on the innocent girl’s life and makes a reader feel its unfairness.
Literary techniques and devices used in both works are different mainly because of their genres. The difference is in that the historical background of Cisneros’ character affected her stronger than Okita’s one, and poetry in the first poem is used to explain feelings. However, both works are written on behalf of children, because their point of view describes cultural identification most sincerely. “Mericans” contains literary devices that evoke empathy, such as metaphors, similes, and conflicts, yet “In Response to Executive Order 9066” has more descriptions and usual narrations. Both works reflect that people of different cultures still identify themselves as Americans because they live in the country’s cultural environment.
Sandra Cisneros describes the way children consider themselves Americans in their cultural motherland. Dwight Okita shows the emotions of a culturally American girl while being treated as an enemy of the United States because of her roots. Okita’s story gives a reader a more detailed view of that time, yet Cisneros’ poem reveals the feelings and emotions of people with such a different cultural background. In both works, the authors explore the topic of cultural identification of non-Americans who lived in the United States in the twentieth century.
Cisneros, S. (1992). Woman hollering creek and other stories. Vintage Books.
Gale, Cengage Learning. (2016). A study guide for Dwight Okita’s “In response to executive order 9066: all Americans of Japanese descent must report to relocation centers”. Author.
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