commodification.

An endless epic poem, departure and arrival and gentrification; this miscellany of themes put in conversation with the life story of these immigrants conjures a sense of displacement, there is a fundamental loss/search of identity. These immigrants seem to have neither left their countries nor come to America. “When I first came to this apartment, my Uncle sat me down on the couch in the living room and proceeded to lecture me about what I could expect to find now that I was in the America.”…Outside of this apartment, though, you have nothing. Nothing is yours. ” How was I supposed to live in America when I had really left Ethiopia? I wasn’t, I decided. I wasn’t supposed to live here at all.” (139-40) this impossibility to fit in the American décor is challenged not by the hostile environment, but also by their own incapacity to grasp the very meaning of the American dream: they have commodified America in every aspect – expensive cars, drinking too much even though they can’t afford it, extravagant outfits and so on.

Part of the failure of this commodification of the American dream is Judith, Sepha’s love for the American woman was unsuccessful. Not only does he fail to assimilate but he neither succeeds in having a relationship with the white (commodified) woman nor has a successful business; then he is displaced again. The movement in this novel is incessant and restless. The present Naomi seems, however, to be intriguing in this novel. She represents, in my understanding, a space. Sepha is able to create a true bond with Naomi, emotionally and intellectually but she is a child.

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About sdiouf

Ph.D student in Comparative Literature.
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