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As humans, we venture through life with determination of finding ones’ true self. This self-identity is “the recognition of one’s potential and qualities as an individual, especially in relation to social context” (Lexico Dictionaries, English, 2020). “A Pair of Tickets” by Amy Tan explores the relationship of ethnicity and self-identity and reveals the idea that culture and identity are truly complex concepts.
At first, Jing Mei finds it difficult believing she is Chinese, although it is in her blood. Her mother said, “…once you are born Chinese, you cannot help but feel and think Chinese… it is in your blood, waiting to be let go,” however she never understood the meaning behind her words (Tan).
Being born and raised in the United States, she was accustomed to the American culture. At one point in the story, Jing Mei possibly even felt humiliated by being Chinese when her mother was, “haggling with store owners, pecking her mouth with a toothpick in public,” (Tan).
After her mother died, and after she begins her adventure to China does she begin to realize what her mother was implying about the Chinese being in her blood.
When Jing Mei arrives in China, she realizes this is where her family history is. She notices that her opinion of her cultural identity is morphing into being more accepting of her Chinese culture. “I feel different, I can feel the skin on my forehead tingling, my blood rushing through a new course, my bones aching with familiar old pain,” (Tan).
This is a turning point where Jing Mei shows she is adapting to her true identity, being Chinese. She even acknowledges what her mother says about being Chinese, “… I think my mother was right, I am becoming Chinese.” Jing Mei starts to understand what family attachment is like being Chinese when she sees her father cry. This can be proven where May says, “…and I can’t help myself, I also have misty eyes, as if I had seen this a long time ago.” She felt this change when she entered the city because she realized she did not accept herself as a Chinese person. She knew that she did not embrace her culture when she was growing up because she told herself at the age of fifteen that she was American.
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