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Throughout history and literature people have talked about home; where home is, what is home, who is part of that home, is home where we learn to be the same or different, do we create our home or is it created for us? Throughout history and literature the answers never tend to be exactly the same, but some have the same idea. Home, according to modern dictionaries, is a place where we are born and/or where we feel we belong. A very crude way of putting it but it is still a true meaning that does not lean too much onto either side.
Every one tends to ask questions consciously or unconsciously at least several times in their lives about home, and some of us even leave where we have been living to look for our home. In "Summer of My Korean Soldier" Sarah is looking for her home. She had been adopted by American parents and taught American values, customs and the English language. Later on in life she moves back to Korea to learn to speak Korean and be Korean, as well as looking for her own home. At the beginning of this short story, Sarah thinks she can find her biological parents and then she would be able completely at home and everything will just fall into place. As the story goes on she meets a young Korean soldier by the name of Jun Ho Kim who helps her look for her biological parents. As the story progresses Jun Hon Kim falls in love but Sarah doesn't want his love, for she was looking for the love of her parents. At the end of the story Sarah finds out her parents can not be found since they abandoned her out on the street in a mess. She then falls in love with Jun Ho Kim. My theory is: Home is where our heart and love is and where we feel where we can belong, at the beginning of our lives our parents are our source of home since it is they that give us the setting full of love, but as we grow up that love we have for our parents needs to go some where else, to our husbands and wives where we create a new home for ourselves and more in the future our children. We can clearly see this in "Summer of My Korean Soldier" very clearly. She was looking for her parents love but when she found out she couldn't have that love she look for that love in Jun Ho Kim, and found it.
Home for some people is where we can be different without being judged by others, and for others it can be where we learn to be the same. In "Coming Home Again" Chang-Rae Lee finds out what he thought to be true wasn't so true after all. He thought he was different and apart from his parents, but in fact he was actually more like them than he realized. He was dropped off at boarding school to learn to be an American so he could have an easier time looking for a job in the future, in other words to be different from his parents but it still didn't erase where Chang-Rae Lee came from. He comes home from college and helps his family out since their mother is dying. Chang-Rae Lee cooks all the foods that his mother cooked for him when he was younger. Through the cooking Chang-Rae Lee and his mother start a bond where they can be the same while still maintaining their differences. I think that even through our differences in a home there is always something in common that binds a people together. Love is the main thing in common that a home shares that helps people bind. It is also the home that teaches us the guidelines or rules of life. Home instills our standards, our values, our morals, whether they are invisible or visible. In "Coming Home Again" Lee's mother gives her morals, her advice, her guidelines on Chang-Rae Lee while he is home and she is alive. She even tells him that it was a mistake to send him off to an American school where they teach different morals and different values that were not part of their home. It is those values that make up a home and for Lee's family it is important to have the same values for it is those values that help maintain their family.
It is those values that the children of the home use to make their home and teach their own children. So the values of the home also influence the future generations of the family even though they move out of that home, for the children will always carry those values no matter how much they affected by them. So the home also provides a way of teaching on how to make a new home to those future generations. In "On Coming Home" Joan Didion also knows the importance of raising her child with traditional family values. Even though the values of Didion are different from her husbands she still wants her child to grow up with values from her family. It are those values that formed her home for her and she wants to do the same for her child. Even though they are not going to be all the same values that Didion received, she wants to give a mixture of both hers and her husband's values creating a new home for her children, but always keeping in mind those values of her first home.
What is an American? The textbook definition of this question is someone born in the United States of America. Of course that is correct but being an American has something more to that than just being born in the United States of America. In "Blonde" Katherine Min is a young girl in the United States of America with her parents. They are ethnically Mongolian and they look Mongolian. In this Short Story Katherine Min is unhappy with her Mongolian heritage since it makes her stick out of the crowd. Katherine Min is so unhappy with who she is she goes and studies her friend Lisa Ogleby who is a blonde. She studies her friend so intently that she says that she is studying to be blonde. For her being blonde and not having a flat face with a flat nose. At the end of "Blonde" she finds a blonde wig on her bed that her parents had bought her. She tries on the wig and even though her parents are laughing at her because she looks quite ridiculous with the wig on, she sees herself as an American. Being American for me does not mean we are just born in the United States of America or that our citizenship is American, it is something more. Being American is having something within each person that we can use to relate to each other. In "Blonde" Katherine Min needed a blonde wig to find that trait that she had in common with other Americans to feel accepted as an American. I am not saying everyone should go and buy a blonde wig, but in our lives we all need something that says that we are Americans and we are proud of it. That something can be as simple as a wig or it could be a little more complex but it all serves the same function, no not to cover your head, but to make you feel part of the crowd. For some people it takes more to make themselves realize who they are than others, sometimes its because of their ethnics, other times its because of their economic status, and other times it is psychological, but in reality we are all American if we are able to just find that one thing that makes us feel American.
Home is a place where people can feel comfortable, a place where they can relate to one another with a certain degree of being the same without losing their identity of being individual and different, a place where the love of each other holds together, a place made by those who live in it, a place of hope and desires, a place made just for those who live in it, a place full of dreams, a place full of desires (some not so nice too), and a place where no one is without.
Works Cited
Lee, Chang-Rae. "Coming Home Again" New Yorker, October 16, 1995
Didion, Joan. "On Going Home" Slouching towards Bethlehem, 1960's
Min, Katherine. "Blonde" From American Eyes, Fawcett Juniper, 1994
Lee, Marie G. "Summer of My Korean Soldier" From American Eyes, Fawcett Juniper, 1994