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Do you ever feel like the surroundings around you shape who you are? People change based on the people around them and how people portray them. “We Need New Names” is a book about an immigrant from Zimbabwe that was written by NoViolet Bulawayo. She came to America to get a better life, but slowly realized that America wasn’t what she thought it was. Although Darling thought life in America would be easy, The reality of living as an undocumented immigrant made her feel like America is a place of poverty, poor living conditions, and a lack of acceptance of new cultures which lead to her changing most of her identity.
Darling and her friends believe that America is a place of wealth, luxury and seems to be excited to be going there. After being confronted by a security guard darling and her friends saw a strange red car drive by. Stina knew what car it was, and Bulawayo writes, “That, right there, was a Lamborghini Reventon, Stina says.
When I to live with Aunt Fostalina, That’s the kind of car I want to drive.”(113) The fact that she wants to drive this kind of car in America is implying that she thinks that it is easy to get A car of that stature. Of course, she might also think that everybody would have expensive cars in America like that Lamborghini, implying that everybody has lots of money to afford all these expensive cars. Darling also likes thinking about what her life would be like in America.
Sitting down, Darling begins to get distracted and looks at the sky. She spots a plane above that looks like a commercial airliner. She says to Chipo “Maybe it’s a British Airways plane like the one Aunt Fostalina went in to America. It’s what I will take myself when I follow Aunt Fostalina to America I whisper in Chipo’s ear.”(36) People tend to share more about what they are most interested in or excited about. Since she went directly to whispering into Chipo’s ear, she seems to show excitement when she remembers that she is going to America. In conclusion, Darling thinks that life in America will be easy because everyone drives expensive cars, implying that everybody has money and thus she is very interested in moving to America.
New surroundings and multiple low paying jobs make it hard to adapt to America and call it her home. America is full of new things that other countries don’t have. After arriving in America during winter she is introduced to a new substance that she has never been exposed to before, snow. Darling thinks “Snow on the leafless trees, snow in the cars, snow on the roads… Where are the flowers? The grass? The stones? Leaves? The ants? ”(150) She seems to enjoy the new things about the snow but misses the old things about summer and the other seasons. The snow could represent the new things that she is introduced to. The various objects that are hidden by the snow could represent the things that she left behind in Zimbabwe. You start to see this more when you watch her grow up. Growing up as an undocumented immigrant can make it difficult to make money; since Darling is an undocumented immigrant she has this problem. In the grocery store that darling works at, she thinks, “When I’m not cleaning the toilets or bagging the groceries, I’m bent over a big cart like this, sorting out bottles and cans with names like Faygo, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, 7-up, Root Beer.”(253) This is one of many jobs that Darling has to work at as you slowly start to see her grow up. Since she did not also go to school she is unable to get a good well-paying job and get the America that she hoped she would get. In summary, new surroundings and the hard conditions of being an undocumented immigrant ruined her experience with America.
The Hardest part about darling living in America are the things that she had to sacrifice to fit in. Shortly after she arrived in America she is exposed to how America is not usually pleasant with different cultures. She was bullied for everything that was different about her including her accent, but after a while lost her accent that she got from Zimbabwe, and gained an American accent. When talking to her friends, she says, “How would you know? You can’t even speak English, I say.”(223) over the years of getting bullied for her accent, she comments about somebody not speaking proper English. This shows that she has lost her accent from Zimbabwe and gained an American accent which she now thinks is the most proper. After a long time of not being back in Zimbabwe, or “home” is what Darling refers to it as she has a conversation with Chipo on the phone. “What they have done to our country. All the suffering, I say. Well everywhere people live, there is suffering, She says I know, but last week I saw on BBC– But you are not the one suffering.”(287) Unable to experience any more of pain for Zimbabwean people she lost all of the things that she got from her country It has been so long since she has been home that her friends were no longer associating her with Zimbabwe. In conclusion, her transformation to an American caused her to lose a piece of her Zimbabwean identity making her unable to associate with her “home”.
Immigrating to America and going to new places can be extremely difficult given specific circumstances. Not being in America you could be very optimistic about the future which is shown by how darling only wanted expensive cars and was very enthusiastic about going to America. You then soon come to realize that America is not what you thought it was and you won’t be able to get the life you dreamt of. This is shown by how darling has to work multiple jobs and is confused by all of the new surroundings. You will slowly lose your identity and not be able to identify with your home country or new place as is shown by how darling is yelled at my Chipo about how she isn’t feeling Zimbabwe’s pain anymore. Even though darling thought life in America would be full of riches and success, the reality of living as an undocumented immigrant showed her that America is a place of poor living conditions, poverty, and a lack of acceptance of new cultures, this leads to her changing most of her identity.
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