Island, is a collection of poems that were written by Chinese immigrants kept on Angel Island because they were considered to be disease ridden and a moral threat. Angel Island as a result of the Chinese Exclusion Act, it was a place to send immigrants and keep them away from Americans, to whom they could spread diseases to. They were treated poorly and subjected to invasive medical tests, they had poor drinking water, and little food. The psychological consequences of Angel Island weighed heavily on immigrants and led to the separation of Americans and Chinese (if they were allowed to enter they kept away from Americans and viewed themselves as inferior). Chinese immigrants came to America because there was high unemployment, high taxes, and instability in China, many sold everything they had to find a better life in America.
One of the major themes I saw in the poems was the repetition of different immigrants saying how they left China to find work and so they could feed their families only to arrive to a prison, they were not even allowed to enter America. A couple of the poems mentioned that America did not know justice; they only knew power. I thought this was interesting because America prides itself on justice, however, in this case the immigrants are condemning the US for being unfair and imprisoning them for doing nothing. Another thing I found interesting was the use of “Flowery Flag,” I really liked the use of the term in the poems because it showed how the Chinese felt about America and the reality. By using “Flowery Flag” it was portraying how America was romanticized and how it was “golden”. Poem 9 says “I used to admire the land of the Flowery Flag as a country of abundance.” The author of this poem once saw what everyone else saw that America was a land of riches and opportunity, however, after arriving realized that America was not everything it was made out to be.