Chadha's absorbing first novel depicts a family of first-generation immigrants in upstate New York encountering the difficulties of survival, wanting to belong in a world that looks down on minorities and also longing for home. It has amazing characters such as the Teenager Vic Singh who has an amazing fascination with butterflies and then starts noticing strange things going on in the house odd lately. There is clearly a lot going on with him for instance he has blog, recounting all of his sightings and meditations on nature, is a clever device advancing the plot. Vic has continuously been a victim of bullies for the reason that his Sikh heritage but it doesn't bother him, particularly after he falls into a sinkhole in the woods that leads him to his own secret place. Then there is his sister Vic's sister, Isabella has been persuaded by her best friend to be in the drama club play nonetheless her nervous sickness exacerbates when Michelle has to leave school with leukemia and Isabella will have to be the one to run things. Their father, Ikpaul, is hopeless in regards to his business losses. With that said, the theme of the this paper is assimilation.
When it comes, assimilation, Olivia Chadha has taken on a determined project: to narrate the experience of modern immigrant families and the all-too-common trials in "assimilating" with the broader society while absorbent one's sense of identity. In actual fact, the challenge for the children of immigrants is much harder for them to assimilate. Why was that? Because they did not feel the need to have to be able to retain some kind of an identity defined by their own cultural history, but instead must be able to forge a new identity that recognizes their familial past while replicating their lives in a diverse culture. It is clear that the author amplifies this subject of assimilation by highlighting the Latvian ancestry of Maija in difference with the Sikh Indian lineage of her husband, Paul. And to take the difference one step advance, she brings into the story the Sikh Indian father of Paul and Latvian mother of Maija. The character of Paul's son, Vic, and Maija is the most obviously drawn. It is apparent that Vic not just struggles with his father's doggedness to follow the traditional beliefs, clothing and male attitudes. For instance, "Puttar, you need to cover your hair and keep it clean. Otherwise you're going to have to wash it like the Americans, okay?" (15). It clearly shows here that his father does not want his son to assimilate but at the same time, it has to be done. However, every time he was around his father, he could never escape the constant nagging of his father to not assimilate but to embrace his culture. For example, "He spoke of the sacrifices the gurus had made to better their lives, and how this unshorn hair, this kesh, was a symbol of his connection to their martyrdom and willingness to protect those who were unable to protect themselves."(16)
For the father, the idea of assimilating was easier said than done. He chose to drown himself in a world that reminded him of things such as handkerchief around the braid that was wound into a bun at the very top of Vic's head. In the story, this was mentioned as a symbol of not letting go of the tradition. "Took a pin from his own turban, and bisected the small yet adequate pile of hair and fabric." (16) Nonetheless, this concept is obvious because Vic likewise has a very hard time with a group of high school bullies who sense that Vic is an easy victim all because they know he is having a very hard time with assimilating.
At the school, Vic was dealing with extreme bullying a racial slurs. He looked at his bullies and just imagine what it would be like to grow four inches and be able to stare down into his soulless eyes. It wasn't fair. "Vic was just trying to get by, like everyone else, but his bullies had singled him out long ago with tired teasing and insults like "Ali Baba" and "Babu." It is very clear that these were not the first time they physically assaulted him but in Vic eyes, maybe it was the price that he had to pay, in order to become assimilated in the community.
"Vic would get his revenge" (5). He chose not to react inaccurately. He would craft a plan that would show up his bullies in the end because the desire to be able to fit into the community was great. If he was not able to get him with strength, he'd take him down with his brains. "Like Batman, who went full-throttle against any and all evil in Gotham" (6) Vic would have his day, he vowed to himself because nothing was going to stop him from adapting.
However, his father does not give him any slack there. Vic once to ignore the abuse at school. He does this because he think that it will go away and by doing this, he will be able to assimilate much more easily. However, that was not the case. His father let him know better. For example, in the story he makes the following point: "Puttar, you will stand up to the pagals that have been tormenting you. Yes, you will fight back." Paul's hands dug into Vic's shoulders a little too deeply." (16)
However, when it came to assimilation Viv was in denial. In his head he thought he was actually assimilating very well and that he was actually fitting in. It was interesting to learn that his father Paul would play the game in public as if he wanted to assimilate, Paul right away pretended as though everything was going according to plan, but clearly it was not. For example, in the story his teacher Mrs. Carmichael would ask him, "Hi, Paul. How's life treating ya? "Living the dream, Mrs. Carmichael, as always." He gave his/her million-dollar smile. (17). His million dollar smile was a way of assimilating into the society of course behind that smile was full hardship and disappointment.
Paul Singh knew two things: One, he would train his son to defend himself; and, two, he would discover rather out if his psychic wife could see what was written on lottery tickets. The lottery tickets to him symbolized a better life despite the fact that he wanted to try and hold on to his culture. However, he knew that his cultural and tradition was not accepted in the society.
"Never mind. Hey, am I going to win that trip to Mexico this week?" (18). this shows that he was holding on to that fact if he could actually win a ticket to Mexico, then he would be just like anybody else. In other words, he and his family would be able to fit into the American Dream and become just as assimilated as anyone else. He goes on to mention, "Guaranteed -- I see it in your future." Rather he believes this or not, he does not want others to know that he wants to hold on to his tradition but at the same time embrace the current one. "Did your wife tell you that? Then it'd mean something. Otherwise, I'd think you just want a cut of my winnings!"(19) Paul is excited about winning a lottery so that he could possibly assimilate but at the same time, he has a good way of not letting everyone know that he is struggling in a world that does not want his race.
The changes are severely defined: Maija is the one that is responsible for bringing up their daughter; Paul is responsible for raising their son because there is no other choice. And to add more fuel to the fire, Chadha is involved with lepidopterology, in which varied classes of butterflies turn out to be an obvious symbol for the phases and changes that were being experienced by those that were immigrants in their modification to a new environment in order for them to blend in. As the book reads on, it is clear that there is some difficulty when it comes to identifying what didn't sound quite right in the narration. In a lot of places, the writing demonstrates how assimilating was a way of life rather or not they liked it or not.
However, when it comes to Maija, she is a woman that wears so many different hats. Recognized as being the Empress of Multitasking, Goddess of Kitchen and Garden, Countess of Costco -- which was of course in her head, Maija Mazur Singh was a woman that was able to listed all of her suitable titles that she was able to do things such as could stitch on her zip-up cardigan's things -- and she was able to have all of this done by the…