Friday, July 1, 2011

"El Patron'" and the Immigrant experience

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One of the most common problems that immigrants faced when they arrive in their new country is how to assimilate into that country’s tradition and values without losing your sense of identity. In the story “El Patron” Senor Matinez after immigrating to the United States wanted to instill the traditional Mexican values of war and the love for his country into his son Tito but Tito haven been born and raised in the United States have learnt America’s value of individualism. The story deals with the conflicts between father and son and also cultural conflicts.

“El Patron” presents a common problem amongst immigrant families all over the world. Many families when immigrate to a new country would face problems of integrating and assimilating into society. For Senor Matinez, who settled in the United States and raised a family there still carry with him his Mexican belief in dying for one’s country and the pride of going to war. For him going to war and following government orders are what he believe would make him a proud American citizen. To have his son go to war and fight for his new country is an honor and almost an act of gratitude to the United States for giving him and his family and new life and home. However, Tito, Senor Matinez’s son does not think and feel the same way that Senor Matinez feels. Tito, born, raised and instilled by the true American tradition opposes the war and find no cause in attacking a country for the oil field. Raised in a country where freedom of speech and having a sense of individuality is most valued Tito finds himself in a precarious situation between his father’s demand that he should serve his country and his own conscience of fighting in a war of lost cause. Eventually Tito stands by his own self-conscience. It may seem like the conflict between Senor Matinez and Tito are universal conflicts between father and son with different points of views and ideas in which it is, nevertheless, the conflicts reaches out to a greater conflict, which is the conflict between two cultures and two generations.

Even though Senor Matinez and his son disagree upon whether Tito should go to war or not, but in the end the conflict was resolved. Both parties were divided in their points of view and the only way they could resolve their difference was through a mediator. Both Senor Matinez and Tito expressed their points of view about the conflict and both understood each other’s position and accepted and respected each other’s decision. Through mediation, talking, exchanging ideas and a little understand cross-cultural problems can be resolved.

The story “El Patron” shows that assimilation, for first generation immigrants are not as easy as the children of the first generation because the children have more exposure to the cultures and ways of the American life where as the parents are pretty much still attached to the old and tradition values of the country. As much as Senor Matinez believes he is an American (through his act of sending his only son to fight for ‘his’ country) Senor Matinez cannot let go of his original culture and beliefs. Ironically enough through Senor Matinez’s patriotism for America it can perhaps be analyzed that Senor Matinez is more American than his American-born son. For Tito, as a man born of an immigrant family he is surely the infinitive definition for being an American as he holds many of the American values dearly to him and was willing to fight his family and his country for what he believed in his heart was right. The story “El Patron” also shows the differences in the two conflicting views that both cultures have towards the value of education. Senor Matinez feels that education does not instill the values that he wishes into his son.

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Overall, the immigrant experience for Senor Matinez, Tito, and Lola are both positive and negative. For Senor Matinez the immigrant experience for him is rather a negative experience because he has lost the ability to instill his Mexican culture and heritage into his children. Because of this inability to pass on his cultural heritage to his children it causes a gap between him and his children leading to misunderstanding and conflict as seen from the story “El Patron”. It seems like Senor Matinez is the least out of the three characters (Tito and Lola) to adapt and assimilate into American society. Senor Matinez still hold much of his old habits and cultural values from Mexico as seen from his treatment to his daughter Lola, no involving her into any of the family problems and sending her to the kitchen while the men talk in the living room. Again the concept of equality amongst men and women is a relatively foreign concept for Senor Matinez. On the contrary Lola, Senor Matinez’s American born daughter feels differently because Lola demands that her dad treat her as equal to that of the way Senor Matinez would treat her husband. When we look at Lola and Tito, both American born children of an immigrant family, has assimilated into American culture pretty well. Tito has learnt to voice what he believed is right and wrong and is willing to go against all odds.

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