Cultural Pollution by Immigrants in Anne Tylers Digging to America
The fears of immigrants culturally polluting the United States were expressed as way back as two hundred years ago by Benjamin Franklin. He feared, as early as in 1751 that his home state of Pennsylvania will get overrun by German immigrants. “Why should Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our settlements, and by herding together establish their language and manners to the exclusion of ours.” (“Observations concerning the increase of mankind”, The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. 4 as quoted in Immigrant Voices, page 4) He lamented that few of the children of the Germans would learn English.They would never adopt the language or customs. And finally, he feared that Pennsylvania would get Germanized.The nativists of 1850s feared that the stability of the American culture would get threatened by the immigrants. “Like the founding fathers, American nativists believed republics were fragile creations, endangered by diversity….. They sensibly observed that emigrants could claim American citizenship, long before they had learned the language or customs of the USA.” (Immigration and American Diversity, Donna R. Gabbacia, PP 95,) Because of this fear they demanded that Immigrants should be made to wait for 21 years for getting the citizenship as the American babies had to.Thus in all historical contexts, the cultural issues of Immigration were looked at from an American perspective only. Here is a novelist who is trying to look at the issue from the immigrant’s point of view. During the narration perspectives shift among characters. but Maryam Yazdan, the grant mother from the Iranian American family and her perspectives form the narrative and emotional centre of the novel. Maryam Yazdan came to the United States as a young bride from Iran. She had her childhood in Tehran and came to America as the bride of an Iranian American doctor already established in Baltimore. She became a widow in her forties and had spent thirty-five years in the United States when we meet her in the novel.