Quiet Odyssey: A Pioneer Korean Woman in America." By Mary Paik Lee, and "Coming of Age in Mississippi," by Anne Moody. Specifically, it will compare and contrast the hardships that Mary and Anne had to overcome. How were their struggles similar and different? These two women at first seem quite divergent from each other in experience and culture, but after reading these two books, it is clear these women have much in common, from their experience of prejudice and hate, to their ability to create meaningful lives for themselves while sharing their experiences with others. These are two women from different cultures and generations, who, if they had ever had the chance to meet, would probably have become fast friends.
TWO WOMEN'S EXPERIENCES
At first glance, Asian Mary Paik Lee and Black Anne Moody could not be more different. One was an Asian immigrant who came to the country in 1905; and the other was a poor black living in the South at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Certainly, these two very different women, from far dissimilar backgrounds and generations, could have nothing in common. Yet, as the reader delves into their stories, they discover these two women have far more in common that first envisioned.
Both women lived in abject poverty when they were young. Moody was born in Mississippi in 1940, but her description of her childhood home could have been taken straight from the annals of slavery. "I'm still haunted by dreams of the time we lived on Mr. Carter's plantation. Lots of Negroes lived on his place. Like Mama and Daddy they were all farmers. We all lived in rotten two-room shacks. But ours stood out from the others because it was up on the hill with Mr. Carter's big white house..." (Moody 1). In contrast, Lee was born in Korea in 1900, and her experience was actually quite the same as Moody's. Her family in Korea was prosperous, but the Japanese, who occupied Korea, conscripted her family's home, and they ended up leaving Korea with nothing more than a few possessions. They settled in Hawaii where they labored long hours on a sugar cane plantation, just as Moody's family labored long hours on a cotton plantation.
Both women also faced persecution and prejudice because of their race, and both women reacted differently to this hatred. Lee remembers being turned away from a house of worship simply because of her race. "I don't want dirty Japs in my church." Lee protested, "Would it make any difference if I told you we are not Japanese but Korean?" He replied, "What the hell's the difference? You all look alike to me" (Lee 54). Moody too faced prejudice and hatred, and because her story takes place at a time when blacks were struggling for their civil rights, she faced it differently than Lee did. She took part in a sit-in at a Woolworth's lunch counter during her college years, and writes about the experience in her book:
The white students, (in the store), started chanting all kinds of anti-Negro slogans... The rest of the seats except the three we were occupying had been roped off to prevent others from sitting down. A couple of the boys took one end of the rope and made it into a hangman's noose. Several attempts were made to put it around our necks (Moody 237).
Moody grew up in a generation of change and revolt, while Lee grew up in a generation who put their hope and faith in God's hands, and this might be where the two women differ the most. Lee says of her family, "they had expected life to be difficult -- but they had put their faith in God and were determined to survive whatever hardships came their way" (Lee 132). Moody, on the other hand, sees a generation lost, with no hope, especially after President Kennedy is shot and killed in Dallas. She thinks, "A world this evil,' I thought, 'should be black, blind, and deaf, and without any feelings at all. Then there won't be any color to be seen, no hatred to be heard, and no pain to be felt'" (Moody 320). In contrast, Lee spends…