Title Who light Incense Mother's Gone3 Describe personally relate theme explain intend purpose 'story theme Use quotes 'selected 'story 'support paper At end thepaper analyzed 'stories focus a approaches Formal criticism Reader response criticism Historical criticism Gender criticism

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Who Will Light The Incense When I'm Gone?

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Andrew Lam is a Vietnamese-born American writer who immigrated to the United States at the age of 11. Now a fully integrated American, he visited his mother on her 70th birthday and in the course of the party asked the question "Who will light the incense to the dead when I'm gone?" (Lam) Lam's aunt stoically answered her question with what can be condensed to "I guess when we're gone, the ritual ends." (Lam) Andrew Lam wrote the essay "Who will light the incense when mother's gone?" in an attempt to reflect on the cultural changes which take place in people's lives when they immigrate to the United States.

The essay opens at Andrew Lam's mother's 70th birthday party surrounded by her family, when his mother laments on the question of who will light the incense for their dead ancestors when she is no longer among the living. This question is not only about one particular cultural ritual, but is actually a discussion about how people's lives, and their cultural beliefs change when they immigrate to America. Lighting incense for the dead is a ritual that is part of traditional ancestor worship. In some Asian countries, where Buddhism is present, there is the belief that the dead can be sustained in the afterlife by the actions of the living. Vietnamese traditionally burn incense at their family altars on special occasions as a means of sustaining the dead, but also for the living to remember their departed loved ones. When Lam's mother asks who will light the incense for the dead when I'm gone, she is also asking who will remember and sustain me in the afterlife when I die?

Andrew Lam comments on his mother's predicament by stating "alas, such is the price for living in America." (Lam) But goes on to admit that he himself has not performed the traditional rituals in some time. Living in America has changed what is considered important to him, but not to his mother. College degrees, journalism awards, and other demonstrations of success are what is important in America, not performing traditional Vietnamese agrarian-based religious rituals. His mother even had a word for…[continue]

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"Title Who Light Incense Mother's Gone3 Describe Personally Relate Theme Explain Intend Purpose 'story Theme Use Quotes 'selected 'story 'support Paper At End Thepaper Analyzed 'stories Focus A Approaches Formal Criticism Reader Response Criticism Historical Criticism Gender Criticism" (2011, September 22) Retrieved July 3, 2015, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/title-who-light-incense-mother-s-gone3-describe-52166

"Title Who Light Incense Mother's Gone3 Describe Personally Relate Theme Explain Intend Purpose 'story Theme Use Quotes 'selected 'story 'support Paper At End Thepaper Analyzed 'stories Focus A Approaches Formal Criticism Reader Response Criticism Historical Criticism Gender Criticism" 22 September 2011. Web.3 July. 2015. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/title-who-light-incense-mother-s-gone3-describe-52166>

"Title Who Light Incense Mother's Gone3 Describe Personally Relate Theme Explain Intend Purpose 'story Theme Use Quotes 'selected 'story 'support Paper At End Thepaper Analyzed 'stories Focus A Approaches Formal Criticism Reader Response Criticism Historical Criticism Gender Criticism", 22 September 2011, Accessed.3 July. 2015, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/title-who-light-incense-mother-s-gone3-describe-52166

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