Sui Sin Far, In the Land of the Free, portrays the discriminatory nature of the American system to an immigrant. This is illustrated in the dialogue between Hom Hing and the US custom officials, who forcefully take the Little Child from its parents. As the plot develops, the themes immigrants reflections to tough US policies, race among others become more pronounced.
The main idea In the Land of the Free is a reflection of the experience of immigrants and the tough policies by the U.S government. Hom Hing, a businessman, hopes to reunite with his wife, who had given birth to Little One in China (Far et al, 95). This reunion is halted simply because they do not have the official documents for Little One’s identity.
The indifference towards them, by US custom officials is painful. Lae Choo advances the theme of suffering, a significant theme to the plot of the story, as she, not only suffers to nurse the child, but also takes care of her ailing parents-in-law back in China. Her suffering is converted to despair when she is forced to depart from her only child, the Little One (Far et al, 186).
The insensitive custom official gives the family false hopes as they place the child in a mission for around ten months. This is symbolic of the period because at this time, Lae Choo was forced to nurse her child alone back in China. A melancholic mood descends on this family as the idea to unite them becomes more hopeless. Hypocrisy by the system that professes freedom for all its citizens In the Land of the Free is very evident. For example, the lawyer takes the advantage of the family’s despair to rob them of their hard earned possessions.
The theme of racial prejudice is well developed. Lae Choo represents a symbol for maternity victimization by the discriminatory laws. The author’s depiction of immigrant, in relation to American laws is an attempt to challenge the notions that Chinese are lesser of American citizens (Far et al, 97).
Irony is more apparent in the title, and throughout the plot. The laws In the Land of the Free play a negative role of apparently divide the family unit. The maternal role of Lae Choo, whose life revolves around her only child, is robbed when the bureaucratic laws separate them. Hom Hing had been hopeful that by bringing his family to United States, unity was evident. However, this came to be different of what he was thinking about.
The mood portrayed, between the immigrants and the customs officials is sad. Sui Sin Far illustrates the US government as being harsh. The forceful separation of a child by the customs officials from the parents evokes sympathy from the reader. Although the story reflects the economical improvement by immigrants like Hom Hing, a businessman and the maternal love of Lae Choo, it poses the question whether the complete absence of compassion by the anti- immigrant laws is necessary as it splits the families.
Far’s use of Chinese names to refer to characters like Lae Choo, Hom Hing, Quong Sum, and Kuie Hoe brings out the issue of identity. This indicates the need to strive for a balance between the acquired identity in America, and the root identity. Although America offers better economic opportunities, many immigrants desire to uphold or retain their own identity (Far et al, 101).
Far identifies how these bureaucratic laws serve, to destroy immigrant families in their attempt to find better opportunities (Far et al, 14). In so doing, she attempts to provoke the system to adjust, and identify with their struggles and provide freedom In This Land of the Free.
The dialogue between the Hom Hing and the US customs officials in the In the Land of the Free culminates in various critical issues in the book. These issues have revolved around race, immigrant response to US tough policies and the fight for one’s identity in the American society.
Far, Sui Sin, Ling Amy, White- Parks Annette. Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Other Writings; Asian American Experience. Illinois, University of Illinois Press, 1995