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America for Beginners


A poignant debut that explores unlikely friendships forged in unusual ...
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What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

Created: 07/26/19

Replies: 8

Posted Jul. 26, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2732

What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a "model immigrant"? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

Ronnie Munshi seems to have achieved the American Dream: arriving from Bangladesh with no money, building a successful business, bringing over a wife, and employing other new arrivals. What do you make of him? Is he the picture of a "model immigrant"? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teacher reader

Join Date: 02/14/18

Posts: 47

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a "model immigrant"? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

I thought Ronnie was one of the most interesting characters in the book. He looked for opportunity and capitalized on it, but then didn't quite know how to handle the business he built. Like each of the other characters, he gained new insights from Mrs. Pavil's journey with her two unlikely guides, and he was becoming a different person. I thought his wife was a nice comic touch.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2732

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'?

I agree that Ronnie's wife added a nice comic touch but I think her inclusion also served as a contrast to Pival's experience of marriage.

As described on p17, "Though Ronnie had been certain that his delicate country-born bridge might find the US of A overwhelming, the reality was that Anita took to America like a fish to water." She had been looking for a way out of village life where "she was not beaten any more than was deemed strictly necessary by her parents [and] had been allowed to complete several years at the local school, and even took classes and received a junior degree from a two-year college in the nearest city."

So, Anita grabbed the opportunity of marriage and America with both hands, embracing Chinese takeout and hot pink spandex with alacrity, and quickly making it clear to Ronnie what their marriage was going to be like. And it is a happy one.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 304

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a "model immigrant"? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

I enjoyed Ronnie, he and his wife are definitely comic relief, but he also shows us the eagerness and the potential of immigrants, in that he is trying to build a successful business and create jobs. There’s a sly comment here as Ronnie is like the classic huckster in America literature, only it’s America he’s selling —something he knows nothing about. Mr. Ghazi is another example of an immigrant contributing to this country by running a business and employing others, fitting in, in his own way. I see them as Franqui’s examples or reminders that we are a nation of immigrants, who come here wanting to succeed and contribute, and that opportunity can be fulfilled; we are enriched by our differences.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 406

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

I don't believe Ronnie is the picture of the "model immigrant", unless they are nervous wrecks, constantly swallowing Tums because they have been using as many other immigrants as possible and he is in constant fear that they will learn the truth about him. He spends his time refusing phone calls, setting up "deals" and trying to supervise every step of a tour because he is using another poor immigrant that he doesn't trust. He is afraid that someone will "use" him as he "uses" them. And his wife, while adding comic relief to the story is doing just that, using him.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 314

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

I think it is sad that Ronnie embraced the part of the "American Dream" where earning the most money is more important than being honest and treating other people well. And while yes, no one could accuse him of "coming over here and taking all our jobs and sucking up all of our services" or being a "drug pusher", "murderer", or "rapist"- - I don't think a lot of a person who makes his money by lying, taking advantage of first time, inexperienced travelers, or other immigrants. And that is pretty much what he did.

I found it interesting that while Ronnie was anxious to achieve the American Dream, he did not want an American partner. He specifically asked his mother to make him a match with a woman from Bangladesh so he would be the authority figure in the marriage. HA! I am glad that he accepted Anita for who she was and did not try to beat her into submission. I thought of Anita less as a comic relief and more of a woman who had her chance to shine once she was taken out of her patriarchal society.

(I'll come back later to answer about Mr. Ghazi.)


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 304

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

acstrine, I agree Ronnie was operating under false pretenses, which in a way puts him within the American tradition. I appreciate your insights into his marital situation and his wife. Certainly he is a counterpoint to Ram. I don’t find any bad motives in him, though. Yes, he’s willing to pretend to know more than he does to get ahead (lots of native-born, privileged Americans do that too), but he does seem to treat people well, his wife, as you pointed out, and also his employees.


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lois Irene

Join Date: 01/20/16

Posts: 76

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

Ronnie's unique view of America made for really interesting reading. His marriage and his wife were great comic relief, in a book that was quite sad much of the time.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 314

RE: What do you make of Ronnie? Is he the picture of a 'model immigrant'? What about the Iranian immigrant Mr. Ghazi?

JLPen77-yes, I don't think of Ronnie as a bad person -- false pretenses is a great way to put it. I think he was operating the way he had seen many successful Americans operate. He emulated them in order to achieve what they had achieved. I think too, that even though he created a niche market for himself and hoped to get rich, he did want his customers to enjoy themselves and went to great pains (even if he complained) to make sure everything was proceeding nicely on the trip.

I think more importantly than being a model immigrant, Mr. Ghazi was a good person. He came to America, found something to do that he loved and made him happy. Along the way, he cared for the people he employed. I shudder to think what Mr. Ghazi's experience would be like like today if he were trying to leave Iran...


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