Some applies the classical Chinese story and refer to it in the poem:
“Even though Su Wu was detained among the barbarians, he would one day return home.
When he encountered a snow storm, Wengong sighed, thinking of bygone years”. (Nelson, 2000)
Su Wu was a famous person in Chinese history that experienced a miserable life in foreign countries while being away from his own country. The poet took himself as Su Wu and they had the strong will that they can leave the prison and come back to China one day. In this approach, the poets not only expressed his cultural identity as a Chinese but also put what he experienced as a temporary hardship which a hero must endure.
When talking about the imagination of American culture and their home culture, the poem says:
“From now on, I am departing far from this building.
All of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me” (Nelson, 2000).
Here, the phrase “depart from this building” indicates the day when the author chose to step away from his home culture and the phrase “all of my fellow villagers” means all those early Chinese immigrants who came to America together with the poet. Their initial response was great expectations for the new culture and therefore rejoiced.
However, they began to feel uncomfortable because of the cultural shock, losing their identity:
“The low building with three beams merely shelters the body.
It is unbearable to relate the stories accumulated on the Island slopes” (Nelson, 2000).
A lot of Chinese cultural elements were also included in the poems as a subconscious reveal of identity. For example, symbols of Chinese traditional festivals:
“Four days before the QiQiao Festival,
I boarded the ship for America” (Nelson, 2000)
The QiQiao Festival is a Chinese traditional festival. On the day when people were in a happy festival atmosphere, the poet left his hometown for America. Written in a cold jail of America, the poem reveals his confusion about the cultural identity. The poet represents those who were lost and did not understand why they choose to pursue such a miserable life instead of a happy life at home. It shows that these immigrants had lost their ambition and hope towards the current situation, feeling alienated and nostalgia. Their original American dream for freedom and a better life now seemed ridiculous.