Coups and Home

Quite early on in this text there is a game that the three men, Stephanos, Joe, and Ken consistently play.  The game itself is all about being able to locate an area that a coup was occurring or had occurred in Africa.  The game itself seems intriguing to me especially when Joe (my favorite character) makes the point of the game stopping only whenever the coup’s stop.  As the coup game itself seems to be an interesting game it seems even more realistic because the author of the text, Dinaw Mengetsu, functioned as a war journalist traveling to different areas that were war-torn in Africa.  Which brings up a lot of validity and fact checking that I’m actually not going to do, but it would be interesting if you could track coups listed in different areas and manage to locate them within the text as well.

Though the coups are interesting it brings a bitter sweet notion to ability of Stephanos to define his home throughout the novel as it relates to a problem of temporality of an individual.  As a considerable question that the text brings up is, where is home and what actually makes one for someone?  Hitting on a common emotion amongst probably anyone who has ever immigrated, traveled, studied abroad, or ever moved away from their birthplace the idea of home becomes very difficult to grapple with.  Within the idea of home comes the thought of the American dream; as an immigrant coming to America what is this and how does one achieve it?  I just finished a paper regarding The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and find it poignant to think about the similarities that the socialist novel tends to push on immigrants coming to a new land where there is a preconceived notion of the grass being greener.  Though each person within this novel functions to show the “American dream”, each of the three characters in BTTHB represents a different version of it and a different idea as to how to achieve it.  For Joe, drinking and intellectual success and Ken with his attempt at being as good as the white man in America by having a successful job and some form of visible class, embodied by his need to wear a suit all the time and his interaction with the men at the car dealership waiting for them to come out to him.  Stephanos slightly differs in that his purchase of the store causes him to be stuck in a weird position of both past and present and unable to determine where his home lies between Etheopia and American world.  It seems his inability to let go of the old world is problematic for his enlistment into the new one and the game that the men play together seems oddly forceful of being part of the glue that causes Stephanos to be stuck along with the thoughts of loss regarding his family and birthplace.

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