Catfish and Mandala presents humility and submission as one of the defining traits of the Vietnamese community in the U.S. Andrew is evidently ashamed of this humility; he despises the fact that he has to be submissive to conform to his culture. Subsequently, he rebels and quits his job, takes on a journey, just so he won’t feel so “Asian.” Later in the memoir, he describes many behaviors that aren’t full of humility, but rather rowdy, embarrassing, and somewhat uncivilized. For instance, when Andrew was on the plane he mentioned that he wanted to sink in his seat, so he wouldn’t be associated with the people of his own culture.
Andrew’s shame results from the Vietnamese tradition of submission and humility towards westerners but not among themselves. This eagerness to please and blind submission shame Andrew because they make him feel like a second class citizen and like he is inferior to Americans. Moreover, Andrew’s insistence on holding on to his American identity doesn’t only originate from his frustration from the ignorant terms that insensible people in the west use to identify his race such as “orientals”, but rather it originates from his own shame towards his own culture. He is imprisoned by his family expectations of him; their disappointment in Andrew is reflected on Andrew’s self-loathing, and lack of self-worth. Eventually, Andrew’s dissatisfaction with himself and his family transformed into a strong sense of refusal, and shame towards his heritage --(according to Andrew) a heritage that once took his sister’s life away, made his parents suffer, and forced his two gay brothers to live in secrecy.