This has been a very interesting reading. It was a flashback of my memories as a refugee. Ironically, I was the one who picked this novel.
The first thing that drew my attention about this novel is Roxana’s determination to assimilate to the new culture. Roxana knew how important England was at that time. She was only ten, but was aware that London was more significant than any other city in Europe. It was her dream to live in a big crowded city like London.
How did she hear about this city or how much she knew about it, is missing from our readings.
It is possible that her well to do, or wealthy parents had made her aware of the city that they were planning on moving to. They had prepared her for moving away, and they had made the idea of moving from France a positive experience.
Refugees who suffer the most are the ones who are pleased by the idea of leaving their homeland, and they are usually the first to accept and pick up the new culture.
She first described her status as a refugee in London. She was only ten, but knew a lot about London and enough to make her a happy refugee. She was so happy to be in London, and happy to leave France, that she did not discuss any of her experiences in France. French language was the only thing that she kept alive (pages 5-6). Her family was fed up with the situation that they went through in France. They were forced to leave France because they were Protestants. They were mistreated and banished by the cruelty, as she put it on page 5. Leaving her homeland for religion gave her a sense of the importance of religion to her and her family. Moreover, it was because of religion that she was able to move to a big city as she wished.
Going back to the beginning of her story; when she landed in London, she was aware of the next step, to fit herself in this city, and be able to settle there for the rest of her life. It was not clear how she overcame all obstacles that she faced. However, like many refugees, culture and language were her greatest barriers.
Both pages 5 and 6, Roxana showed pride of how she managed to learn to be a true English-woman. She was very proud to be able to pick up the language without having any accent like other immigrants. It was her way to fit with the society and not be isolated as a foreigner. On page 6 she explained her first steps to become an English woman. She was put to an English School, and there she learned the ‘Customs of the English Young-Women.’
She emphasized on her linguistic ability. She was able to pick up a new language as a native speaker; she was able to speak a ‘Natural English’ page 6. It was obvious that keeping an accent was not accepted and odd, or perhaps out of fashion. Native speakers usually find it hard to accept foreigners who are unable to communicate with local people. She had no more barriers, so gave herself a credit for not remaining her accent, ‘nor did I so much as keep any Remains of the French language tagg’d to my Way of Speaking,’ she sayed. Then, she criticized other foreigners, “as most Foreigners do.” (page 6).
At the age of ten, Roxana learned to put away her culture and homeland but not her religion. Her determination to learn a new culture and language were her first challenges that she had faced. She was fully aware that picking up new culture and language would allow her to assimilate to the new world, and be accepted.