Economic opportunities were the main reason of Chinese immigration to America. The Chinese people who were going through painful economic and social condition in their own country were ready to grab opportunities in the United States, as one poem states:
“Instead of remaining a citizen of China, I willingly became an ox.
I intended to come to America to earn a living” (Nelson, 2000).
Here, the author was willing to come to America and work as an ox in order to improve his life, thinking that America was a land of opportunities and social mobility. The sociological factor here is clearly established. One of the poems written by a Chinese immigrant leaves behind their respected pursuit of Chinese of being writer and warriors, just to earn money:
“Leaving behind my writing brush and removing my sword, I came to America . . .
[to attain] my ambition and become successful” (Nelson, 2000).
The goals of these immigrants were reinforced by the American philosophy of opportunities. The ideology of American Frontier was made popular by Frederick Jackson Turner. He wrote a paper “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” in the year 1893, in response of the belief that democracy had come to the New World. Though, since starting this paper was criticized but, it was very influential and popular among the American scholars. According to Turner, the frontier was the country, which has no boundaries and thus presented that America also had no boundaries and provided lots of opportunities for economic and social upliftment. This belief became the philosophy and ideology, which was connected with outward mobility to “Go West”.
Chinese immigrants who came to America were connected with the Frontier philosophy of America. They came through San Francisco and gave their hand in the development of many industries. They developed those industries for which they thought that it will raise their economic status. Their contribution towards the development of American Frontier was significant, but the American philosophy clearly denied it. Various conventional American writers have put forward the question that the ideology of equal opportunity made for competition or just to display the class issue. The poetry from Angel Island is the part of this theory. For Chinese, America was the land of opportunities and also equality. They never expected that they will be detained here, as one of the poems displays this grief:
“I told myself that going by this way would be easy.
Who was to know that I would be imprisoned at Devil’s Pass?
How was anyone to know that my dwelling place would be a prison” (Nelson, 2000)
Their disappointment at being denied of the opportunity of better future has been expressed in detailed form and had the revenge plot in many of the poems of Immigration Station.
“I will not speak of love when I level the immigration station!
An advantageous position for revenge will surely come one day.
I will certainly behead the barbarians and spare not a single blade of grass”. (Nelson, 2000)
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