In the story “In the Land of the Free”, Sui Sin Far describes the sadness and melancholy of a young mother, Lea Choo, when she had to be separated from her son when they entered the U.S because her son did not have a necessary certificate entitling him to admission to this country. This story traced back to the time after 1870 when a huge number of immigrants from China arrived in the U.S. The U.S government, terrified by an allegedly economic depression and misperception causing by immigrants, enacted many racially discriminated laws to limit their employment and immigration. Especially, in 1882, the government passed the federal Exclusion Act which required Chinese immigrants to be routinely detained for questioning. The examination process took a long time and divided many family members. Lea Choo was a directly miserable victim of this unfair law. Her son was took away from her arms and was prohibited to reunite with Choo until she and her husband, Hom Hing, supplied enough identification paper to the government to prove that this baby was their son. Because this process took a long time, Lea Choo sank in her misery and hopeless.
Hom Hing was a merchant doing business in San Francisco. Like many other Chinese immigrants, he struggled to come to the U.S. hoping he could find have a better life and prosperity. Unfortunately, his wife, Lea Choo could not come with him because she had to stay to take care of Hing’s sick parents. After they died, Choo took a long journey to America to reunite with her husband. She always dreamed of the U.S as a wonderland. However, when she first stepped in this marvelous country, she knew that all her dreams were broken. Her son could not come in with her. She almost lived in depression and solitude for over ten months before reuniting with her son. Ironically, her son could not recognize her and run away from her. She lost everything in this dreamland. Her tragedy dramatizes the theme that people’s illusive dream about a wonderful land can cause them sadder and more weepy when they encounter real troubles in this new homeland.
Before she came to the U.S., she always dreamed of “a green tree with spreading branches and one beautiful red flower flowing thereon”. (Page 176) Lea Choo fantasized the U.S as a vividly luminous image of a rich and blossom country, where she and her husband could have a better life and prosperity, a land full of milk and honey. This wonderland was covered with everlastingly sea green trees. They would have many opportunities to succeed and become rich. This land had many resources like tree with many branched and Lea Choo hoped that by their efforts and sweat, they could enjoy many prosperous achievements like the” beautiful red flower flowing thereon” blooming on that tree. Overall, she believed that the U.S gave her a chance to savor a marvelous and joyful life, absolutely better than her past.
When she saw her dreamland, she still confirmed her imaginary impression of the U.S. She happily told her son “There is where thy (your) father is making a fortune for thee (you)” (page 174). She always strengthened her belief that this land giving hope for the immigrants. She imagined she would have a comfortable and bright life here. She hoped that the day she came here was the beginning of her exultant period. By taking her son to the dreamland, she hoped he would have success and prosperity too. “It is very happy and thou wilt be happy there”,” Twas (it was) for thee I left him”. She was ready to pay any price for her son. All her hope and bless, she passed to him.
However, when his son was taken from her, she stopped dreaming of this land with a tree full of branches and a red flower. Instead, she wept and nagged her husband to bring his child back. She realized that her dream of a wonderland was unrealistic and unworkable. She merely had a desire to meet her child again. “Even in the darkness, his darkling eyes used to shine up to mine.” She became angry with the unfair law that separated her and the child.” There cannot be any law that would keep a child from his mother.” She regularly hoped to come to the U.S. Now, she knew that immoral and unemotional laws of this land brought the depression and sober to her. She saw her dream was broken into pieces. Ironically,”In the Land of Hope” symbolizes that when people enter this dreamland, the U.S., they see all their hopes about a beautiful land are destroyed.