Cultural Assimilation and Identity Suppression in Social Settings

Another example of this is when Tariq and his brother go to a local disco and use false English names instead of their Pakistani ones so they will be able to enter the disco. Not only are we shown this but there is also a T. V report on television that shows a politician called Enoch Powell and he says that all foreign people should be sent back to their original countries. Again the pressure is high even from members of the government.

The poem 'Presents from my aunts in Pakistan' is again based on the confusing between mixed nationalities. The poem is an autobiography and is written by a poet called Moniza Alvi.

Moniza Alvi originates from Pakistan but immigrated to England as a child. One of her parents was English and the other Pakistani, so cultures for each parent were totally different. The setting of the poem is mainly in England as the poet can only remember brief amounts of her short life in Pakistan.

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The girl in the poem is half Pakistani and half English and finds it hard to adjust from her English self to her Pakistani self. She feels out of place when trying on her Salwar Kameeez sent by her aunts. We know this as she says, " Was alien in the sitting room"

This gives us the impression that she felt uncomfortable in her foreign identity. She wore Pakistani clothes, which are very much different from her everyday English clothes. The second stanza sums up the girls mixed feelings.

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We know this when she says, "I couldn't rise up out of its fire". This shows problems of dealing with her identity. She refers to the phoenix as a metaphor. This gives the reader the impression that she still felt confused with such magnificent coloured clothes on. We now think that the girl felt like a stranger when dressed in her Salwar Kameez.

'East is East ' also deals with the issue of the different fashions between the countries. Again, the children felt out of place when wearing the Eastern clothes but not really confused of their religion as they refused to have arranged marriages within it, so they disagreed with the traditions of the Moslem religion and sided more with their English identity. Moniza Alvi also had to deal with the pressures of the local community. We know this as we get the impression of what her community is like when she says, " Indian gold, dangling filigree but it was stolen from out car...

" Here she describes her mother's beautiful Indian jewellery being stolen from their car suggesting that the area in which she lived had a problem with crime. She also has to deal with the pressures of her friends. In the poem she writes, "My Salwar Kameez didn't impress the school friend that was sat on my bed... " We know the pressures of her school friends were quite intense as she might have got bullied for her Pakistani appearance. Comparing this to 'East is east' there is a slight similarity as around the families there was lots of pressures and racism.

Moniza tells us of an image she imagined later on in life of Pakistan, "When I was older, there was conflict, a fractured land" The saying 'fractured land' is a powerful phrase to use. It is trying to emphasise the civil war between India and Pakistan. The country of Pakistan does not sound very appealing after this comment was made. The readers are given an idea of how the Pakistani's lived as there were certain rules women and men were educated to follow, "My aunts in shaded rooms-screened from male visitors". The women and the men were expected to lead separated lives.

Updated: Apr 29, 2023
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Cultural Assimilation and Identity Suppression in Social Settings. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

Cultural Assimilation and Identity Suppression in Social Settings essay
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