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My name is Sophornzana Sam.  I was born in a small, Southeast Asian country called Cambodia.  My father left us and moved to America to work for the Cambodian embassy.  Many of my father’s friends suggested that he bring his family here to the United States.  So, after one year, he decided to get us here.


I attend James Madison High School.  It is a good place to be in.  I have had a lot of good teachers and have made numerous friends.  I learned many things here.  In my spare time, I like to stay on the computer chatting and playing video games.  Sometimes I also play sports.  Some of the things I like to take advantage of in Brooklyn and Manhattan are movies, shopping and visiting those wonderful landmarks and buildings in Manhattan. 


I am taking a College Now course and have learned a lot from it, especially writing.  I actually improved my writing skills.  I learned how to write an enhanced college essay, which is very important because I will need to know how when I go to college.  I want to be a successful businessman after graduating from college.  I want to get a job which will earn me enough money to live well.

Sophornzana Sam                                                                                            


Why do people have to play games? How do they deal with it? Most often, people play games to achieve a goal and get what they want. They con other people when they lie, cheat, pretend, steal, and even “kiss butt.” Some people have to lie to get out of trouble. Thus, they have to play the game. Some don’t actually play it, but they have to pretend that they are playing. In the interview, “Miss U.S.A., Emma Knight,” by Studs Turkel, and “Salvation,” by Langston Hughes, both literary pieces demonstrate how and why individuals had to con other people. As a matter of fact, the game is not always a good thing to be reckoned with. Therefore, some people go along with it, while some fight it.

Emma Knight was one of those who experienced what it was like to play the game and the one who actually opposed it in some ways. According to the interview, she was told that if she liked a man, she had to get interested in what he’s interested in, and let him win when playing cards. Someone told her, “Subvert your interests if you have a crush on a guy, get interested in what he’s interested in. If you play cards, be sure not to beat him.” This is one thing that she didn’t like to do. She wanted to do her best; she wanted to win no matter who her opponent was—either a guy or a girl. Even though she was asked to enter the beauty contest, she never believed that she could win. What she would say was, “No, uh-uh, never, never, never. I’ll lose, how humiliating.” When she had been accepted to the contest, she found out that her sponsor was a lumber company, which made her wear jeans, hiking boots, and even carry an axe. It was ridiculous that she had to wear that kind of costume for the beauty contest. During the evaluation process, she was assessed based on her astrological sign, personality, poise, and so on. More importantly, they only needed the “young, untouched, and unthinking human being.” They wanted a virginal, young woman—a woman who would keep quiet and never think and question them. They made it seem as if the person were an animal who couldn’t talk or a slave who wasn’t allowed to talk.

 When Knight was to sign the Miss Illinois-Universe contract, she was told not to read it—“Oh, you don’t have to read it.” Knight, however, didn’t like the idea that she had to sign the contract without actually reading it. She said, “I never sign anything I didn’t read.” She wanted to do things she liked, things that contradicted what they wanted her to do. When a newspaper man asked her if she was a “Miss” or “Ms,” she answered, “It’s Ms.” “He wrote an article the next day saying something like it finally happened: a beauty queen, a feminist.” However, Knight was a feminist before she entered the contest, and she would still be a feminist, even if she won the beauty contest. She didn’t care what they wanted her to say or what they wanted her to be. She wanted to be what she wanted to be—an independent woman, who had equal rights as men with no one telling her what to do. Finally, she won the Miss U.S.A. pageant. She stated, “I started to laugh. They tell me I’m the only beauty queen in history that didn’t cry when she won.” She didn’t follow what they said. She just didn’t want to play this whole game. The press stated, “There she is, Miss America, your ideal. She said, “Well, not my ideal, kid.” She was considered to be everyone’s ideal, but she never thought that being a Miss U.S.A. was her ideal. She tried to show people that she would fight it (the game).

As soon as she won the contest, she felt that she became their property. She said, “The minute you’re crowned, you become their property and subject to whatever they tell you.” She became a slave to those people. She became their property and had to do whatever they told her to do. “I got fifteen thousand dollars, which is all taxed in New York.” Knight didn’t actually get the money she earned. “Almost two months, I got a day and a half off. I made about two hundred fifty appearances that year.”  For the whole year, she spent more time working and had less time for a vacation. They gave her so little time off. They seemed to own her.

After she was crowned for Miss U.S.A., she had to compete for Miss Universe. According to the interview, Miss Universe took place in Athens, Greece when the junta was still in power. Although, there was an overthrow of the government, she still had to be there to participate in Miss Universe. After the new queen was crowned, Knight became an unknown person. She stated, “I was gone by that time. I had jumped off the stage in my evening gown.” Nobody actually cared about her any more. According to the movie, “The Sting,” the characters rubbed their nose to signal that the con was on. Knight used the same gesture to tell people that it was on (the con). She said, “I looked right into the camera and rubbed my finger across my nose.” She showed people that she was pretending to play this game the whole time. She wasn’t going along with it.

Knight might have made the right choice by going against it (the game). She wasn’t treated fairly. First she was judged based on what she liked, not what she was capable of doing. She was to sign a contract, which she didn’t know anything about. Then they put her into danger by sending her to Greece. They were controlling her and using her. Not only was her freedom limited, but so was her dignity. They were trying to get her to play their game. However, in some ways, Knight fought it for herself, her freedom and for her self-esteem.

We usually think of ourselves as “ugly-looking” and we try to perform any changes to make our appearance look better so that we can fit in the society. According to “Looking Glass Self,” by Charles Horton Cooley, we imagine how we seem or appear to others. We see our own images through other people. We don’t look at ourselves and say, “I am satisfied with myself.” We actually listen to what other people think and feel about us. Such feeling happen to many young women. Many of them think that they are not cute or “sexy” enough compared to other women around them. They see famous movie stars and singers who look “perfect,” and they want to be just like those people. They have to play the game. They are not satisfied with what they have. They want to have what other people think they should have and to look like what people think they should look like.

To be successful, people need to be “perfect.” Britney Spears, for example, became successful in life. She gets everything she possibly wanted. But before she achieves her goal by becoming a famous singer and making a lot of money, she has to go through this whole idea of “playing the game.” She has to look “perfect” in order to appear on any TV shows or concerts. Being talented isn’t enough for her. What people think of her is more important than what she thinks of herself. If she looks hideous, her popularity will shrink and not too many people will be interested in her anymore. “Physical attractiveness” is the key to be successful, and it is not solely a female issue. Not many women, who are not attractive, get a good job in the entertainment field, especially, becoming movie stars and singers. They have to look pretty and “sexy.” This same stereotype also applies to boys and young men. Most young men look at other men and compare themselves to those men. One usually thinks the other man is better than him. He looks less attractive. Similar to female movie stars and singers, male movie stars and singers have to look “perfect.” If they fail to complete this requirement, they’ll lose the job. Therefore, they have to be just right and look like what other people think they should look like. They have to play the game.

 Emma Knight, in some ways, was opposed to the game. On the other hand, Langston Hughes became the one who actually went along with it. As a boy, Langston was convinced to believe in God—in Jesus. He said, “I was saved from sin when I was thirteen.” He believed that God would help him and get him out of sin. This idea affected him mentally, and it got him to pretend to believe in Jesus. He started to go along with it. During the revival at the church, he was waiting for Jesus to come to him. He stated, “Still I kept waiting to see Jesus.” He had only one thing in his mind that Jesus would come to save him. He would be saved from sin. He “kept waiting serenely for Jesus—but he didn’t come. I wanted to see him, but nothing happened to me. Nothing! I wanted something to happen to me, but nothing happened.” Although, he began to realize that Jesus wasn’t going to show up, he couldn’t get out of it; he couldn’t get out of this game. Many people were expecting him to tell them that he had seen Jesus. So he “decided that maybe to save further trouble, I’d better lie, and say that Jesus had come, and get up and be saved.” Langston didn’t want any troubles. He had to lie to many people to save himself. He had to continue playing the rest of the game along with other people, who felt the same way as he did.

Many people around Langston might have believed in something that wasn’t true. They didn’t face the reality. They were in a denial. They just wanted to accomplish something that would satisfy them. They were playing games. They also pulled someone else to take part in their game and that was Langston. He was just a thirteen-year-old boy. He would possibly listen to what people told him. He had to believe in this untrue concept that God would come to him. And at the end, when he realized that it wasn’t factual, it was too late for him to turn back. He had gone too far. Langston lied because he had no other alternative. Consequently, he would have to play the game.

Knight fought the game in some ways. On the other hand, my aunt and uncle had to play the game as well as Langston. Their benevolence allowed them to be conned. Their relatives usually called them on the phone and asked them for money. They had so many reasons to say why they needed the money. Sometimes, they said they needed money because someone was sick and needed money for the treatment. Sometimes, they said they were broke, and sometimes they even told my uncle that they needed money to open a business. Eventually, my uncle and aunt realized that they were being cheated, and people were lying to them. It seemed like they never stopped asking them for money. They always came up with something to say—treatment, business, bankruptcy, etc. My aunt and uncle were upset and disappointed when they learned this. They couldn’t believe that people lied to them when they were being so good to them. However, my aunt and uncle had to pretend that they didn’t know what happened; they had to play the game. They didn’t want to break any relationships with them. Therefore, they had to continue helping them as much as they could. They still give them money.

Going along with the game might not be the best choice. That’s why people have to fight it. However, some people go along with it, either intentionally or unintentionally. People like Emma Knight and Langston Hughes and even my relatives had different perspectives about the game. Knight had to fight it because it was her way. She just didn’t want to do what she believed was wrong. Langston, however, had to play it because he didn’t want to get into any further trouble. My uncle went along, as well, but to keep a good relationship with his friends and relatives. People always have different reasons to either play or fight the game. They might actually face the later consequences, but that’s what they have to do to get what they need. Their need is so important that they have to con other people.