Exploring Grande’s Struggles with her Identity in A Dream Called Home
Many authors have explored the different instances where individuals succumb to their self-doubt, especially after settling in a new environment. Immigrants are exposed to various issues that affect their interactions with other people and perspectives towards life. The immigrant experience tells individuals the different encounters that people from other cultures live through after relocating to the U.S. and other foreign countries. In A Dream Called Home, Grande struggles with her identity and explores different activities to provide meaning to her life. Growing up, she never imagined she would become a writer who could help other people understand the immigrant experience by sharing her encounters chasing the American Dream. As the first person in her family to earn a college degree, Grande encountered immense pressure to succeed in life, which hindered her progress and made her doubt her abilities. From this realization, Grande struggles with her identity because of the culture change, which affected her perspectives towards life and other elements of society.
Identity crisis occurs when people question their sense of being after being exposed to a different setting, which requires them to conform to new beliefs and values. Grande’s struggles with her identity are escalated by the change in environment, which interferes with her perspectives towards life. The American experience made her view society differently from her childhood memories because of the new set of rules she was expected to comply with and embrace during her interactions with other people. In her recollections, Grande indicates that no one asked what she wanted to be when growing up (Grande). Unlike her agemates, who were guided by the American education system, Grande struggled to fit in, while being expected to compete with her peers whose life had a sense of direction. Likewise, as the only person in her family to go to college, she had to balance chasing her dreams and to make her loved ones proud because of her achievements. For this realization, the challenges to fit in the new environment exposed Grande to a series of challenges that made her doubt her abilities during her interactions with other people.
In 2007, Grande stated that she wrote A Dream Called Home for the people living in the American bubble who are unaware of the challenges encountered by immigrants settling in the U.S. and other countries. Even though she gets personal, readers can experience her struggles with her identity when she is exposed to different settings where her abilities are being examined. On many occasions, immigrants are expected to compete alongside their peers who have zero cultural baggage or pressure from their families to succeed and help them overcome the looming cloud of uncertainty. Later in life, Grande is caught up in a conflict between her American and Mexican identity, where she struggles to meet the demands of the two different cultures. In detail, one can tell that Grande’s passion to document her experiences and share her recollections with the world is influenced by the need to reform the immigration policies in the U.S., which target undocumented youths and other population groups from different cultural backgrounds.
Beyond the pressure to meet societal expectations, Grande is exposed to family problems caused by her alcoholic father and absentee mother. In her teenage phase, Grande expected her parents to be present and create an environment that allows her to learn and grow into a responsible young woman. Many psychologists associated identity crisis with a sudden change in a person’s life that disrupts their views towards human existence. At thirteen years, Grande witnesses the dark side of her parents and is forced to embrace their way of life, which drifts her passion for writing. Unlike many literary scholars who pursue writing as a career, Grande saw the communication approach as a path to survival, which allowed her to overcome the immediate challenges and regain her sanity. However, the problems in her immediate environment were too much for a thirteen-year-old to handle, making her develop a certain level of skepticism towards family relations. Family relations play an essential role in shaping the perspectives of individuals and exposing them to an environment where they can accomplish their desired goals and objectives.
Being a child immigrant in a problematic family exposed Grande to a wide range of issues, which affected her perspectives towards the American way of life. The new environment required Grande’s parents to be present and help her overcome the challenges caused by the culture shock and inability to utilize her skills. At one point, Grande says that she encountered problems understanding the content in the books shared by her teachers. While other students received help from their parents, Grande had to accomplish her learning goals and objectives by herself, making it impossible to identify her career path and ambitions in life. Given the hard choices she had to make, Grande grew up viewing herself as inadequate, an outcome that hindered her from expressing confidence during her interactions with other people. At the same time, she never wanted to feel invisible because of her inability to express herself clearly and participate in learning activities, an aspect that interfered with her overall learning experience. Therefore, Grande’s struggles with her identity are largely influenced by her inability to fit in the foreign setting and still uphold her cultural beliefs.
While at the University of California, Grande is alienated from her outside world and develops feelings of isolation, which affect her communication skills when interacting with others. Fortunately, she outgrows the act of survival that is shouldered by her writing interests and is exposed to a class of unruly students who undermine her teaching abilities. As Grande is absorbed into adulthood, her ties with the family weaken, leaving her feeling isolated. While Grande transitions into one stage of life, her progress is erased and replaced by the new experiences in her current state, which worsen her state of mind. Importantly, Grande’s feelings of isolation ruin her desire to form friendships with other people. When she develops problems with her lover, who leaves Grande, she reflects on what her life had become. Single mothers encounter a wide range of difficulties in taking care of their demanding children and pursuing their ambitions in life, disrupting one’s state of mind. While her current predicament as a single mother could be attributed to the challenges encountered in her teenage phase, the American society expects Grande to demonstrate her grit and utilize the skills imparted in her by the American education system.
Looking back, Grande feels she could have done better with her life, which had turned into a disappointment. Grande is convinced that her challenges during her relocation into the U.S. as an immigrant should have been rewarded by better outcomes. However, her writing skills come as an act of survival, which help her to maintain her sanity throughout her human existence. From her recollections, Grande embraces writing, which allows her to share her most intimate experience as an immigrant and an American citizen. In a unique way, people look at Grande as an interesting story teller whose recollections transcend beyond her immigrant status and cultural identity, which acted as a barrier towards her interactions with other people in her surroundings. Grande’s book exposes readers to an enabling environment where they can interact with the immigrant experience and develop unique insights that improve their perspectives towards life. Given that many individuals are unaware of the challenges encountered by immigrants, Grande’s experiences create a unique perspective, which improves the immigrant identity while providing a solution to a wide range of issues that affect the relations of individuals with other people from different cultural backgrounds.
Grande struggles with her identity because of the culture change, which affected her perspectives towards life and other elements of society. In many instances, immigrant stories are usually portrayed negatively because of the inability of individuals to share accurate recollections that document the challenges encountered by immigrants in a foreign land. Many literary accounts have explored the immigrant experience using a cultural lens, which captures the inability of individuals to adjust to the new way of life. However, Grande’s recollections demonstrate the adverse impact of her identity struggles and how they shape her perspectives towards life. Throughout her transition from teenage phase to adulthood, Grande encounters different issues that hinder her perspectives towards life.
Grande, Reyna. A Dream Called Home: A Memoir. Washington Square Press, 2019.