ENG 102: Writing Through Literature
Prof: Jay Polish
Tuesday, May 8th
Does society forces immigrants into becoming Anon(Ymous).
Anon(Ymous), the play that left its audience with more questions than answers, the play that left me with unquenchable desire to know more; was written by Naomi Iizuka and was published in 2007. The playwriter took us on a journey, where the protagonist of the story was introduced. A young refugee that goes by multiple names and each different name had their own unique stories to share and also their own nightmare to face. “Where I come from mines are planted in the roads like deadly flowers, and the air smells like death, rank and sticky sweet”1 (Iizuka, Anon, 2). Anon was a refugee who fled his home country due to an endless war, where being civilize held no apparent meaning. For safety purposes, Anon and his mother had decided to migrate somewhere safer but during their voyage, they were separated in a storm. The play enfolds various controversial themes such as border crossings, wars, dehumanization, immigration, sexual harassment, and the endeavor to identify one’s identity in the midst of all the unstable chaotic shifts and forced dream sequences. Although, as essential each one of these themes were to further develop the characteristics of the characters, the audience should ask themselves: Does our society forces immigrants into becoming anonymous
Truth be told, to be able to fully comprehend the meaning behind the play and this research paper, I must first break down the author past life. Naomi Iizuka was “born on April 22 ,1965” (Iizuka, Wikipedia), in Tokyo but grew up in Japan, Indonesia, The Netherlands and Washington D.C. With Iizuka’s mother being an American Latina and her father being Japanese, her life was very complicated as a teenager, she never completely fit anywhere due to her multicultural background. Nonetheless, Iizuka never let society held her from pursuing her dreams and although her works often follow a non-linear storyline, majority of her plays are influenced by her multicultural background. In Anon(Ymous), the audience could still see that multicultural background being integrated within the play. A formal setting was never introduced to the audience, even though majority of the characters could be seen as immigrants from the beginning of the play and besides, the playwriter left the audience with the capability to cope with the characters since they contribute to the making of this unapologetic society that torment the lives of immigrants. Society has always looked down upon immigrants, whether they were documented or undocumented. Anon wasn’t seen as documented or undocumented in the play, however though, society saw him as a parasite coming to destroy the American dream which forces him into becoming multiple different characters. “In a larger sense, you’re faced with the choice of having to change the core of your identity when you adapt to a new place” (Iizuka, Anon(Ymous)). Anon identity was crushed by the expectations of society, which forces him into becoming multiple new versions of himself, so he could be accepted in an unwelcoming society.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest” (Wiesel, Nobel Lecture). Throughout history, people has always gazed down upon immigrants, whether it was to make themselves feel superior or to dehumanize the basic foundation of their integrity. Calista was also among the people that considered themselves to be superior then Anon, during their conversation at the opening of the play, she demanded Anon to kiss her and when he refuses; she reminded him of how grateful he should be toward her demands because she saved his life. Although, her demand was disgraceful, she expected Anon to bowed down due to his circumstances. Calista could represent our society today, she pushes Anon into becoming a new version of himself, so he could adapt to his new environment. During their conversation, Anon introduced himself as Nobody but that name didn’t met the expectation of Calista, “ANON: 1 told you my real name. CALISTA: Your real name is not “Nobody.” What kind of mom names their kid “Nobody”?” (Iizuka, Anon(Ymous). Calista was Anon second encounter throughout the play and she shaped the rest of his journey and showed him that he was uncivilized.
To be considered as civilize in a civilize society, one must have a personal name and one must respond to that personal name when being call upon. Names are very precious to us as human-beings, because that’s how we identify ourselves. Society took that away from our protagonist and turned him into an Anon(Ymous). The United States has always been seen as a safe haven of opportunity for immigrants and for this reason, immigrants from all around the world tend to risk their lives to get this country and hoping that their live will get better. However, once they arrive their perspective change, some immigrants are able to cope with their new identify and others find themselves lost and unable to regain their humanitarian ways due to the pressure that are being apply on them by society.
“Despite efforts through a wide range of human rights pursuits, integration policies, multicultural policies instituted by various levels of governments, many experience various forms of discrimination” (Teixeira, Carlos and Li Wei. Pg. 224). Upon losing his mother, Anon found himself in dreaded situation. Fighting to remember his true identity and also trying to survive in a new land, where he’s seen not as a human being but as a parasite. “NASREEN: What’s your name? ANON (Seeing the CURRY sign): Koo-ri…. ALI: Remarkable. A very large cockroach endowed with the gift of speech. (Iizuka, pg.69). Ali saw Anon and referred to him as an insect, due to his appearance and treated him not as if he was just another citizen but as a foreigner. Wherever our protagonist found himself within the play, another character was always there to dehumanize him and showed him how inferior he was compare to the characters.
Despite what the playwriter might have try to teach us within the play, immigrants are being dehumanize everyday within our society and truth be told, it’s understandable. The people that are feeling superior than documented or undocumented immigrant are rooted in ignorance and prejudice. People are often find themselves scare of what they might not understand, they fear that newcomers with different languages, cultures and religions are unwilling to change their ways to adapt to the American society. The belligerence of the older generation line of Americans to immigrants were created long before Anon(Ymous) was written, it has become a part of our society and as times goes by it will become an ideology that will be push toward the younger generation. Any immigrants that migrates to a new land will be able to cope with Anon, leaving their homeland, in search of a better life and to find themselves lost chasing after their true identity.
Work Cited Page
Carlos, Teixeira and Li Wei. “Immigrant and Refugee Experiences in North American Cities.” Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, vol. 7, no. 3, Jul-Sep2009, p. 221. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/15562940903150030.
Elie Wiesel – “Nobel Lecture: Hope, Despair and Memory”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 6 May 2018. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1986/wiesel-lecture.html
Hirschman, Charles. “The Impact of Immigration on American Society:Looking Backward to the Future”. Tr@nsit online, 2007. http://www.iwm.at/transit/transit-online/the-impact-of-immigration-on-american-society/
Iizuka, Naomi. “Background- Age”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naomi_Iizuka.
Iizuka, Naomi. “Anon(Ymous): A Drama”. Playscripts, 2007.
Reflective artist’s statement
Throughout this research assignment, I’ve learned many valuable things and one of the most important one, was my ability to gather a lot of information and be able to integrate those information that I found into my thesis. This research paper was very complex because so many unanswered questions were going through my mind and it was very hard to find reliable source of information regarding the play itself “Any(Ymous)”, since it was written a few years ago and to be exact in 2007. Nonetheless, by focusing on one particular question, I was able to narrow down my search area into a specific category and that really helps with completing the assignment. This particular research paper has really help me in various forms.
I’ve written multiple research paper prior to writing this one, however a professor has never asked to integrate a scholarly article into my paper and by looking for a specific scholarly article, I learned how to use the LaGuardia library to my advantage and I also learned that there’s a ton of free websites within the LaGuardia library that I could use to help me become a better writer. In the future, I will be more comfortable searching for information and now that I understand the process behind a well written research paper, I believe that I will be able to accomplish more. Researching my thesis wasn’t as complicated as researching the play itself; due to the dream sequences, it was very difficult to fully grasp and understanding the playwriter point of view. Which left a lot of space for the audience to interpret the play as they seem fit and as much as I enjoyed reading the play, I am still unsatisfied because of my unanswered questions. I could have pushed my analysis further, If I had the opportunity to interview playwriter, Naomi Iizuka and ask her about the truth behind Anon personality and if he was truly dead. As an immigrant, I could relate to Anon story and understand the reason behind his decision to keep his real identity hidden, whether it was intentional or not and also, I chose to use certain words to convey my readers because I truly believe that society has the tendency of looking down upon immigrants or sometimes even American citizens. Specific words were used in my paper and truth be told, these words weren’t used to trick the readers but to shine some light on the dehumanization that has been happening within our society towards documented or undocumented immigrants. My partner and I, share some hard truth about each other’s research papers and personally I found his insights to be quite useful. Although we had different questions, we both were trying to convince our readers that our topic was important. In some ways, it did more harms then good due to how differently we interpreted the play, my partner believed in the fantasy that Anon was actually dead and all of these memories were just replaying in his head before his death, although we argued about it, he never actually showed any evidence to support his claim, however I truly believe that Anon is alive within the play and I also believe that society’s expectation has pushed him into becoming multiple versions of himself so he could survive in different environments.