Comparing and Contrasting

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to live in the United States of American when you are an immigrant? Every year, hundreds of thousands of people across the world migrates to American where they settle in a nation with different culture and behaviors compared to those in their home country. These individuals thus are forced to adjust to the American way of life and only those who adapts best can find it enjoying to survive in this country. Immigrate have always narrated different stories on how they have adapted to the American culture after they migrate to this country. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dream by Studs Terkel and Who Will Light Incense When Mothers Gone by Andrew Lam, are some of the essays that have been written based on immigrating life experience in American. This paper thus aims at comparing and contrasting these two stories which appear in the American dreams and nightmares sections based on the plot and characters, to find out how the authors have adapted to American culture.

The Plot Comparisons

Both stories addressed above have a similar scheme as they narrate how individuals from different countries came to the US and established their life here. The story of Arnold Schwarzenegger's tells of his journey from his country of origin in Austria, to settling in American and starting a new life for himself. It also explains how Arnold have adapted to the American dream since he came to the country and the passion that has kept him moving.

Type of service
Type of assignment
Writing level
Number of pages
Total price: $ 00.00
Total price: $ 00.00

On the other hand, the story by Andrew Lam is no different. The author narrates the story of his family from their departure from the home country in Vietnam to settling in the United States of American. Lam also states how his family members have adapted differently to the American lifestyle. The author also talks about the future of their family in American and what has kept them moving.

Contract in the Plot

The two stories, however, have some contrast based on the storyline. In the first story be Terkel, Arnold Schwarzenegger left his home country in Austria because he was chasing his dream. He saw that American was the best place to fulfill his dream due to its opportunities and freedom that make people what they want to be. Arnold, thus migrated and settled in American on a personal will. The plot also shows that Arnold has grown much attached to the American culture now and that he believed it is the promised heaven for personal achievements.

The story by Lam is, however, different because he and his family did not come to the United States because they liked it; they came because they were forced out of their home country during the Vietnam War. They came here to seek asylum from illegal prosecution, and thus their story is entirely different from that of Arnold. Lam narration also gives a picture where he and his family have adopted differently on the American culture. He is comfortable with American way of life and their language; however, his mother and father still hold on to the old Vietnamese traditions. The plot thus differs with that of Arnold, who has no single attachment to the country of origin.

People moves from their country of origin to other nations based on different reasons, and it is these reasons which determine if they can easily integrate with the culture of their new country. When people move due to free will, mostly there move to those nations that they have studied and understood their culture and they are sure that there, they will survive comfortably in such society country. This thus explained the situation surrounding Arnold Schwarzenegger who wanted to migrate to American, because he loved the culture and opportunities found in the country. 

On the other hand, people that leave their country of origin and migrate to other nations because of lack of other options, they adapt in an even manner to the new culture. Factors like war, hunger, disease, and other natural calamities force people who are not prepared to leave their homeland to leave, and when they do so, they tend not to forget their cultural way of life even in the foreign country. This situation thus explains the behavior exhibited in the Lam story, where his mother and father are still buried deep into Vietnamese culture despite the living in American for decades.

Personally, I believe that also the age of immigrants in these two stories, also have made a different in the storyline. Young people today are more globally informed that their parents and they have a good picture of countries like the United States, as it stands at the center of globalization. Therefore, in both plot, I was expected that the young people would easily integrate with the new culture of America, just like Arnold and Lam did. However, senior citizens still hold dear the memories they had formed, and the norms they grew up practicing; hence it is quite hard to change their social thinking, as demonstrated in the Who Will Light Incense When Mothers Gone storyline. 

Comparison of the Characters

The character of the individuals in the two stories also have some similarities with each other. The main similarity is mostly found between Arnold and Lam characters as both of them appear to have same taste and preferences. First, the traits of this individuals show that they are informed. They are well aware of their past situation, their current situation and also their future based on logics. This statement thus demonstrates he was informed about the countries culture and standards. He is aware of his current situation and has accepted it the way it is because he knows he cannot reverse.

Arnold and Lam are also individuals who love secretly, so as to achieve what they are aiming at life. Arnold, state that he is a person who keeps off his friends when working, and he do that to ensure that they do not distract him from his goal. This statement thus shows he loves secretly because he knows the importance of doing so. On the other hand, Lam also loves family and especially his mother in a secret way. He has proven to be rebellious and especially to traditional, but that has not stopped him from practicing them time to time. Thus he secretly loves her, although he does not agrees with his beliefs.

Contract in the Characters

The characters culture in this two narrations is well demonstrated via the traits of Arnold and those of Lam's mother. First, this two characters differs on the aspect of change. Arnold is dynamics, and thus he accept more changes in his life, just like he welcomed the changes in his dream as the society. 

Arnold is also an opportunist person, who see best in things that he has not yet achieved. He believed that America would be great to him, and also he would become best at something in the entire world. An impression that she see not hope in the future.

The above difference is also supported by follow-up interviews on Arnold and Lam. In his follow-up interview, Arnold admitted that he was flexible person, and the aspect that made him even more determined for future. He also stated that the future was always better for him because it is the future which holds victory at any time. On his part, Lam admitted that his mother found it hard to change her traditions and that she was also sad that her traditions would be lost if she is gone. She thus argued that she was pessimistic about the future. 

Personally, I find that this difference in character is common to many types of research on how people behave. Most people that are known to have resistance to change, are always afraid of the future hence they tend to be a pessimist. However, those who are flexible, always embrace change, and are an optimist that such change will always benefit them. I thus believe that this observation on human character can be used to explain different between Arnold and Lam's mother characters. 


In conclusion, the above exegesis has presented a comparison and contrast analysis of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dream by Studs Terkel and Who Will Light Incense When Mothers Gone by Andrew Lam stories which appear in the American dreams and nightmares sections. The plot of the stories and characters has to be used in this analysis. The report has achieved its aim by showing how Arnold Schwarzenegger, and members of Lam's family, similarly and differently adapted to American society. It is thus up to the readers to determine whether these similarities and differences make this sources good examples in understanding immigration or not?

Need an essay?
We can easily write it for you
Place an order

Related essays