Narrations of Experiences of Cultural and Racial diversity in Mainstream


Narrationsof Experiences of Cultural and Racial diversity in Mainstream America

Narrationsof Experiences of Cultural and Racial diversity in Mainstream America

Narrationis a powerful tool that authors use to build the plot, advance atheme(s), and showcase the mastery of stylistic devices such asimagery and symbolism (Mateas &amp Sengers, 1999). From themasterpieces of three authors, Maya Angelou, Sherman Alexie, and AmyTan, narration plays the central role of advancing the theme ofdiversity in America and the struggle of minorities to keep up withpredominantly white America. While Angelou chooses the struggle asan approach to show the typical experiences of black people throughthe life of a successful sports personality, Tan uses a mere oneexperience of a Chinese family hosting a minister while Alexienarrates his personal experiences as an Indian-American. The notableaspect about the narrations of the three authors is that theyrepresent the typical experiences of minority groups during and inthe post-civil rights era. In fact, the right conclusion is that themain characters in each narration embodies the different experiencesof the racial and cultural minority group they represent in a societythat comprises of mainly white people and cultures.

Thereare notable similarities in the way the three authors use narrationto enhance the theme of cultural diversity and the struggles ofminorities in the United States. All three authors use symbolism intheir narratives. While the reader may understand the events as theyunfold, further analysis reveals a deeper meaning to specific eventsand actions of characters. Maya Angeluo’s championof the world,is both a direct narration of Joe Louis’s victory against a whiteopponent in a groundbreaking match and a symbol of the victory ofblack people that had a suffered a painful history of oppression. Louis’ victory symbolized the triumph that black people had awaitedfor years.

ShermanAlexie’s, Supermanand mealso symbolizes the struggles and triumphs of Indians through thestory of Alexie. The first symbol of racial struggle is the supermancomic book. Children from all races and ethnic backgrounds read thebook in English yet Alexie capably mastered it to the extent that hecould interpret it terms of real-world experiences. Sherman writes,“I refused to fail. I was smart. I was arrogant. I was lucky.”These words symbolize the struggles that Indian children had toendure to compete against white children. They also had to strivehard to defy the stereotype that placed them below the academicachievement stratum.

AmyTan also use symbolic language in FishCheeksto portray the struggles that emanated from self-rejection in aracially prejudicial society. In the first paragraph, Tan writes,“He was not Chinese, but as white as Mary in the manger”(paragraph1). This is in reference to the minister’s son that Tan had fallenin love with. The fact that she cannot accept herself because she isChinese symbolizes the internal struggles that minorities face insituations such as this. In conclusion, the three authors assume anethnocentric position throughout their respective narratives.

Thereis one major difference in the way the three authors use narration toadvance the main themes and build the plots of the stories: thethematic approach. Angelou chooses to use sheer racial and ethnicstruggle through the life of Joe Louis, Alexie choose to use personalacademic experiences, while Tan uses a personal inter-racial romanticexperience. Eventually, the authors successfully use narration totell the world how being a minority meant a totally different andunique experience in mainstream America.


Mateas,M., &amp Sengers, P. (1999, November). Narrative intelligence. InProceedingsAAAI Fall Symposium on Narrative Intelligence(pp. 1-10).