How is snowfall used to symbolize the oppressive nature of assimilation in The Melting Pot?
I will be analyzing how Israel Zangwill uses the depiction of snow in The Melting Pot to symbolize the oppressive nature of assimilation in America. I will be focusing specifically on pages 76 and 77, which contain descriptions of the "divine white snow...getting thicker", and Vera stating "I haven't fallen from heaven like the snow." Snowflakes fall to the ground with distinct physical characteristics. Despite their initial uniqueness, their arrival on land amidst an abundance of other snowflakes makes the individual snowflakes indistinguishable from the mass of other snowflakes. This emulates the multiculturalist nature of immigrants arriving in America. However, the nationalist, Anglo-Saxan centered persona of America masks the distinct cultures and ethnicities of immigrants, and conveyed the idea that a likeness amongst individuals will enhance the efficiency of a nation through pride and mutual respect. The concept of the melting pot of cultures parallels the forcibly unified nature of compact snow. To further my analysis, I will pinpoint specifically how immigrants were forced to assimilate through examples such as the mission system and jewish assimilation into “whiteness.” The melting pot extends the mythos that individual cultures can thrive by comprehensively contributing to a new, unified, “better” culture, however this American culture was completely molded and determined by the Anglo-Saxan Americans in power.
In The Melting Pot, snowfall is used to emulate the nature of assimilation in America. Snowflakes and immigrants alike have unique and distinct qualities. However, upon entrance into a society consisting of many other snowflakes, or many other immigrants, their once distinctive qualities are masked. This is not to say that Americans endorsed a sense of racial color blindness. However, those that fit certain qualifications, such as having light skin, were enveloped under the general identity of being white. In fact, it is America's over attentiveness and obsession with race when it comes to assimilation that has allowed for such a divide amongst people of different skin colors.
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