American Culture Essay Example

In the short story "The Things Around Your Neck", the two main characters both had experiences in which human nature shaped their beliefs on people of different cultures. The young lady who went by the name of Akunna, was Nigerian, and had many interesting experiences during her time in America. Part of her interesting journey in America was when she was working as a waiter at the restaurant, she met a man who kept coming to her table for four straight days. The man who could easily relate with her because of his past experiences. Even with their different cultures and backgrounds, they both were able to connect and relate to each other, which was important for Akunna to have because of her recent arrival to a new country.

Difference of Cultural Values

The young lady who introduced herself as Akunna to the man, was somewhat surprised to see how different the American culture is from Nigeria. Growing up in Nigeria, not being as wealthy as most Americans are, she never took anything for granite. Akunna did not write home too often, but felt the urge to write about seeing people's actions and how people act differently in America verses in Nigeria. She mentioned how "people left so much food on their plates" (Adichie 118), or "expiation for the wasted food" (Adichie 118). Another shocking experience she had in America was the difference between the rich and poor. She mentioned, "Rich people wear shabby clothes and tattered sneakers, who looked like the night watchmen in front of the large compound in Lagos" (Adichie 118). As well as that comparison, Akunna noticed, "rich Americans were thin and poor Americans were fat" (Adichie 119). Akunna who is surprised and not used to different cultures and different lifestyles felt the urge to write home about some of the different experiences she witnessed, that she would not see back home. All of her experiences, good and bad, helped create her ideas of the American culture. She is an outsider, and as an outsider, she has misconceptions about the people around her, but those same people have misconceptions regarding her, and Akunna has learned to deal with those problems.

Personal Vision of Another Culture

Akunna’s uncle often described America as a "give and take". He viewed America as an opportunity, and he made the very most of his opportunity in the America. Akuuna who is an immigrant, has been given opportunities to make money as a waiter and start a new life. She shows interests by attending college, but she could barely support herself in the first place. She still would go to the library to "looked up course syllabi on school Web sites and read some of the books" (Adichie 117). Akunna who is handed an opportunity, tries to make the most of it, even with her limited amount of resources. Due to the fact she just moved to a new country, and is working as a waiter, money is preventing her from becoming the best she can be. When her uncle says "America was give and take" (Adichie 117), that phrase applies to Akunna. One can give in the time and effort to succeed in America, as Akunna is. As well as giving in, you don’t always cash in or succeed right away, and patience is important for becoming successful.

The Influence of a Different Culture

Akuuna who is new to America, learns to adjust to a different culture, which is not an easy task to do. The man who came to her table, four nights in a row at the restaurant helped her tremendously adjust to America, but more importantly make her feel comfortable. Feeling comfortable in a new country is very important, and he helped her in almost every way to do so. She had trouble reaching her family back in Nigeria, which was awful for her. Being the last to hear about her father's death, and simply not talking to her family for months took a toll on her, as it should with anyone. What she went through, is a stressful process, and emotion gets the best of you. That's just life, learning how to control your emotions, even in situations that Akunna went through.


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