Immigrant Voices Essay, Research Paper
The Book Immigrant Voices by Thomas Dublin is focused on giving readers a close view of what things were like for immigrants between the years of 1773-1986. It contains diaries, letters, autobiographies, and interviews of actual immigrants during this time period. The book tells many facts about immigration to America and the harsh realities people faced.
The first immigrant I read about was John Harrower. Harrower was from the Shetland Islands and was forced to leave in 1773 due to poverty and despair. Harrower left his wife and children in order to find work in America. Harrower signed away his freedom in order to cross the ocean. On the journey to America Harrower delt with his own sickness and watched others die. Harrower watched men that he knew, friends, who had died of illness get tossed overboard and thrown into the ocean.
Harrower was a smart man, therefore, when he reached America he became a tutor. John instructed the children of the man of which he was serving. After being there for nearly four years Harrower had saved up almost enough money to bring his family over to America. John Harrower died of an unknown illness before he could bring his wife and children to their new home.
Some of the letters that I spoke if were those of William and Sophie Frank Seyffard to their families. William and Sophie were Germans who came from well off families. William and Sophie were married and they were happy together. William Seyffard bought a farm where he and Sophie would live. They had children and were happy in America for the most part, until their mill burnt down and they lost practically everything they had. They owed mortgages and creditors. They moved off of their own farm and all of their children got ill with scarlet fever. The one by the name of Ernst died.
Another instance of a heartbreaking story of an immigrant is that of Rosa Cassettari. She was an Italian who was forced to America to be married. She had to leave her child and mother in Italy, also her first love. Rosa went to America and married a man named Santino. She cooked for twelve people. She did not love Santino. He was cross and beat her. Rosa had gone into labor multiple times with no one there ot help her. She had to cut her own ambilocal cord. Santino would not even get her water when she was to weak to leave her bed. Cassettari left Santino and slept in a freezing alley with her children. Rosa did find a new love in America. His name was Gionin. This autobiography isn’t so upsetting when it ends, for Gionin takes care of Rosa and her children.
One of the autobiographies I find most intrieguing is one of Rosa Gollup. Rosa was an eleven year old Russian girl who came to America to live with her father whom she hadn’t seen in years. She left her family in Russia to leave with her aunt to help make money to bring the rest of her family to America as well. She was smuggled accross the border and lay under hay pretending to be bags of flour. She got deathly ill on the ship bound for America. She would’ve died if it weren’t for a crew member helping her. The girl, Rose, or Rahel was forced to change her name to that of an American. They called her Ruth. Rose was also forced to watch her father be brutally beaten because of his nationality. She got a job stitching coats in a mill. Her boss was rather cruel to her. The girl would stitch and stitch until her hands were bleeding. It was hardly a place for a young girl. Therefore, Rose Gollup joined the union. But since not many girls or women joined the union it was soon broken up.
Nest was Suzuko Itoi. She was a young girl of Japanese heritage yet born in the United States and was therefore a U.S. citizen. She and her family lived in Seattle during World War II and the depression. Suzuko didn’t even know she was Japanese until her mother told her when she was six years old. Suzuko began to realize and regret her heritage shortly after. She and her mother went looking to rent a summer home and were refused because they were Japanese. Some people politely refused them and lied about having no openings. Others were cruelly honest and said “They didn’t want Japs around.”
After Suzuko and her family found a place to live the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Soon after the Federal Bureau of Investigation started taking all of the Japanese away. They were thought to be dangerous, U.S. citizens or not. Suzuko and her family were forced to burn their personal belongings just to feel safe. They burned things that were very dear to them, things they had for years. Finally the Itois were taken away from their home. They were taken to camps where their apartment was the size of a living room, cold, and empty. The camp was surrounded by a wire fence. There were 24 hour watch guards who watched the camps and held tommy guns. This is truly a tragic thing for a young girl to experience. She was not a Japanese citizen and her American citizenship suddenly meant nothing.
Another story is of a Puerto Rican boy named Piri Thomas. He lived in Harlem with his family. They were strucken by poverty and lived in a freezing cold apartment because the landlord wouldn’t turn up the heat. Piri had dark skin and resembled a negro. The Italian boys on Piri’s street would degrade him and call him awful names. When Piri tried to defend himself the Italians would beat him up. The Italian adults would watch this happen to Piri, smile, and do nothing. This caused Piri to think that he was lower than the Italians. It also caused him to hate them. Later on Piri and his family moved to Long Island. Piri went to a dance at his new school and made the mistake of asking a white girl to dance with him. She politely said her boyfriend would get jealous and that she just couldn’t. When she and her friends thought that Piri couldn’t hear them they called him a dirty nigger, among other things. This autobiography ends with Piri full of hatred, thinking everyone was better than him, and him saying he’ll never go back to school.
One Vietnamese quote from ths book states “I can remember things about the war, when we left Vietnam. It was hard… terrible. Men were fighting, pushing women and children to the ground, so that they could get a place on the plane. People were panicking ot get out of the country, there was shooting. My parents said “Follow us, we have to go.” I didn’t realize that we were going to a new country.” I cannot imagine the pain that these people must have felt not knowing what was going to happen to them and their families.
In conclusion the book Immigrant Voices lets the reader know, in detail, what it was like to be an immigrant. Immigrance in America caused much suffering to many people. Because of this we now have a very multiracial and multicultural society today.