Titel: The Dissolution of the Family in “Pocho” Compared to “Mona in the Promised Land”
Autoren/Herausgeber: Patrick Geiser
Ausgabe: 1., Auflage
Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,3, University of Freiburg, course: Ethnic Novel in American Literature, language: English, abstract: Index
I. Introduction 1
2.1 Background to the Novel 2
2.2 Territorial Obscurity 2
2.3 Education 4
2.4 Richard’s Relation to his Parents 4
2.5 The Dissolution of the Family 6
III. “Mona in the Promised Land” 9
3.1 Background to the Novel 9
3.2 Mona’s Relation to her Parents 9
IV. Conclusion 13
This term paper deals with two pieces of American immigrant literature of different culture,
political background, time and setting. The novel “Pocho” by Jose Antonio Villareal
published in 1959 was the first Chicano novel. It was written primarily for an Anglo-
American audience in order to explain the life of a “Pocho”. Villareal wrote the novel without
any guideline as no one had entered this “political vacuum” before.1
The novel “Mona in the Promised Land” by the Chinese-American writer Gish Jen published
in 1996 introduces us into the multicultural life of the predominantly Jewish New York
suburb of Scarshill in 1968.
I will show in this term paper that despite the many differences in the two novels there also
are many commonalities and parallels what life and the problems between the two
protagonists and their parents concerns. I will furthermore try to present in detail that the
familiar sorrow in both novels is closely connected with the complex conflict of generations
within two cultures, as well as the protagonist’s search for identity that results from this.
In the first part I will analyze Richard’s changing relationship towards his parents.
In the second part I will show that also Mona despite her completely different background and
environment faces similar problems which finally lead to the break up with predominantly her
mother. Furthermore I will expose that Mona and Richard share common interests and ways.
At the end of my work I will finally compare the parallels but also show differences between
the two novels.
2.1 Background to the Novel
The term “Pocho” is an expression for a Mexican who is born and raised in the United States.
It is used with an abusive connotation to describe Mexican Americans in the USA. “Pochos”
are often perceived by Mexicans to be badly-educated and without a proper sense of culture.
Jose Antonio Villarreal’s novel “Pocho” is set after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 when
millions of Mexicans migrated to the USA in order to get work by the so-called first