1.) Junot Diaz writes of his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao:
Trujillo is a local version of the legacy of the New World, which all of us who live in this hemisphere carry upon our heads. The novel’s question is: How do you deal with this legacy? Do you run from it? Do you ignore it, deploy existential denial? These are strategies that add to the legacy’s power, that guarantee its perpetuation. Or do you look into the silence and actually say the words that you have to say?”
Here, Diaz is interested in confronting the legacy of colonialism and imperialism out of which the New World was born. Explain how at least one novel from our class this semester seeks to confront a similar legacy of violence that has been largely repressed by official historical narratives.
2.) Throughout the semester, we’ve focused primarily on the challenges faced by immigrant characters when trying to adapt to a new homeland where they are often viewed as outsiders. But are there any potential benefits associated with the in-between position of exile or diaspora? In other words, what new potentials (hybrid cultural identities/alternative critical sensibilities) are opened up to those characters (or authors even) who find themselves within a new nation, but not entirely a part of it?
3.) Many of the novels we’ve read this semester have sought to challenge the imagined coherence of American national identity. Explain how one novel from this semester has situated US national identity as a contested terrain, where racial, class, gender, ethnic, or sexual differences have played a part in defining who belongs and who does not.
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