Life in the United States was anything but heavenly for Asiatic Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As vividly described in Mary Paik Lee’s autobiography. “Quiet Odyssey” . a really big bulk of the Asiatic American population shacking in America during this clip period “never had adequate money for a normal manner of life” ( Lee. p. 9 ) . They normally had to fall back to hard physical labour to hardly acquire by. endangering their wellness in the procedure. Japan’s subjection of Korea. even though it really took topographic point in Korea. greatly affected the Korean population in America. sometimes even doing some of the initial Korean presence in the States.
Lee’s narrative reveals some of the vague facets of Korean history that otherwise may be more hard to unearth. It besides depicts the racial favoritism badly rampant during this clip. and how Asiatic Americans worked to break their place in American society despite this obstruction. Asiatic Americans in Mary Paik Lee’s Quiet Odyssey viciously experienced the effects of poorness. debasement. colonialism. and racial favoritism. as reflected in Lee’s histories of personal experience and Asiatic American Cultures 101 of the University of Washington.
Asiatic Americans. including Lee and her household. were invariably harassed by poorness and debasement. which finally led to wellness impairment. Even when Asians came equipped with some degree of education–such as Lee’s male parent. who had studied to be a minister–they normally had to fall back to farming and bring forth bases. the sorts of degrading occupations reserved specifically for Asian in America. which besides included little food markets. baccy stores. chop suey articulations. dry-cleaning and pressing stores. and washs. These occupations required long and hard work yearss merely amounting to minimum income. which made Lee’s family’s chief end “to earn adequate money to purchase nutrient to feed all of [ her household ] ” ( p. 46 ) . Every member of the household needed to lend to this goal–to her parents’ embarrassment. even Lee’s “one-dollar-a-week rewards were needed to feed the family” ( p. 24 ) . and her brother Meung’s dreams of traveling to high school are shattered by his duty to back up the household.
Soda and ice pick are considered “luxury items” ( p. 88 ) . and Lee’s first experience with a toothbrush and toothpaste merely comes after matrimony. Health conditions due to malnutrition were common because of the deficiency of nutrient with the exclusion of “all things… unfit for human consumption” ( p. 16 ) . She meets the “end of [ her ] hopes for a high school diploma” ( p. 58 ) when she is told to remain out of school for two old ages as a consequence of terrible malnutrition. She was non the merely 1 to see these sorts of hapless wellness conditions. Many Asiatic Americans took on physically demanding occupations that worked them much over their physical tolerance degree because they had to feed their households. holding no other pick in a society so Anti-Asian. However. Korean Americans had less of a pick than other Asiatic Americans due to tyrannizing powers back place.
Lee and other Korean Americans’ lives are farther emotionally complicated by the effects of Nipponese colonialism back in their fatherland. The Paik family’s initial ground for in-migration was because they were forced to manus over their house to the Nipponese soldiers. This meant the beginning of their tough life in America. Over the old ages. narratives of pitiless persecution in Korea traveled by word of oral cavity and letters from escapees in China. Lee and her household experience great emotional hurting when they hear about the March First Movement in 1919. or. the Mansei Uprising. through which their relations are accused of act uponing their students to arise and are persecuted. The Paik household back in Korea invariably writes to Lee’s male parent for fiscal aid. which was needed as a consequence of economic adversity caused by Nipponese subjugation. Many Korean American households did their best to direct fiscal assistance to Korea. to help their households in demand and to assist emancipate their fatherland.
This meant excess fiscal loads for Koreans in America. added on top of the already-present fiscal duties. As for the emotional discontent they faced. they could make nil else but to “carry on” ( p. 61 ) . The mental uncomfortableness Lee and her household lives with caused by their cognition of the position quo is uncomfortable. but at the same clip. portrays the events that otherwise would non be as widely known. Because Japan tried non to allow the remainder of the universe hold on excessively much cognition about Korean persecution by to a great extent baning letters and tormenting Koreans to the point of close decease but non complete decease to ease the indurate image. autobiographies such as Quiet Odyssey are good beginnings of what truly went on. The vague histories of the persecuted are incorporated into Lee’s narrative. telling the ghastly calamity in Korea with no embroideries. However. as Korean Americans were combating colonialism overseas. they and other Asiatic Americans were combating a bigger resistance in America.
The largest struggle Asiatic Americans suffered from in 19th and twentieth-century America was between racial favoritism and the desire for credence. which is besides the most often encountered facet in Lee’s narrative. Asiatic Americans were excluded entirely because of bias ; because of their physical visual aspect. non their actions. They were forced to be cautious of even the most guiltless activity. such as utilizing the public toilets. entirely because of the colour of their tegument. Lee lived in a society where legion installations were labeled “For Whites Only” and people looked at Orientals. “upon whom every white individual was looking with hatred” ( p. 95 ) as if they were “something from Mars” ( p. 50 ) .
Her first twenty-four hours in simple school consisted of her schoolmates “ [ chopping her ] caput off” ( p. 16 ) merely because she looked different from them. During this clip. non really many Asiatic American households sent their kids to a white public school. where it was “common practice” to “give the nonwhite pupils lower classs than the whites” ( p. 56 ) . Many of them sent their kids to unintegrated schools. or refrained from directing them to school wholly. Everywhere they went. the “atmosphere [ and attitude were ] chilling” ( p. 24. 54 ) . For this ground. “people like [ Lee had ] to look before traveling anywhere” ( p. 78 ) . for the fright of by chance overlooking the “For Whites Only” marks. For her. even the church was “For Whites Only. ” before the local justice clears up the state of affairs. when a church member “ [ glares at her ] with hatred in his eyes and [ tells her ] to ‘go to hell’” ( p. 54 ) .
Because of this barrier to racial harmoniousness created by American society. Asiatic Americans had to exercise much attempt to suit in and be accepted. Lee’s father sagely advises that Lee “always watch the wife’s reaction to whatever [ that happens ] and seek to delight her” ( 44 ) whenever she visits a white family’s place. He knows. like many other Asiatic Americans. that they would hold to “learn to acquire along with everyone” ( p. 16 ) to last in America. They took excess safeguards to do certain non to “cause sick experiencing towards [ their ] people. ” and to “prove to Americans that [ they ] are besides human beings” ( p. 103 ) .