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“Is it starting here, yet?”

Madison Square Garden (MSG) played host to the “Pro American Rally” on February 20, 1939. Over 20,000 people packed into MSG to take part in the rally where they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the National Anthem, and listened to speeches. The rally took place to coincide with George Washington’s birthday, and a large image of America’s first president gazed down on the stage. It was flanked by American flags and Nazi party flags because you see this rally was organized by the German American Bund. During the 1930s, the Bund, and other organizations, openly supported Adolf Hitler and embraced fascism and Nazi ideas.

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Identity in Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s “The Land South of the Clouds”: Part I

In the last post, I discussed the ways that Cristina García explores identity in her novel Monkey Hunting, specifically through the characters of Chen Pan, Chen Fang, and Domingo. Today, I want to expand that conversation by looking at a few scenes in Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land South of the Clouds, a novel that, like Monkey Hunting, examines the ways that we construct our own identities. Smith’s novel focuses on Long Vanh, the son of a Vietnamese woman, Vu An, and an African American soldier, Wil. Throughout the novel, Long Vanh deals with the ways that others view him and works to comes to terms with his own identity, even amidst negative comments from his family.

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Identity in Cristina García’s “Monkey Hunting”

In the last post, I started talking about Isabel Wilkerson’s statement from Caste when she says, “None of us are ourselves.” I looked at that statement in relation to Chen Pan in Cristina García’s Monkey Hunting (2004). Today, I want to continue that discussion by examining a couple of more moments in García’s novel. In the next post I will look at some moments in Genaro Kỳ Lý Smith’s The Land South of the Clouds. In each of these novels, characters see their identities constructed by others. They work to construct their own “true” identities, but no matter how hard they try outside perceptions and ideas push in upon them, constraining them, placing them in boxes that they themselves did not create.

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“None of us are ourselves.”

In Caste, Isabel Wilkerson talks about the construction of race within the United States in relation to the institution of slavery and the genocide of Indigenous individuals that used race as a way to maintain power. Through this construction, individuals’ identity became subsumed within a tangled web of ideas that others projected upon individuals. This is, of course, what W.E.B. Du Bois talks about when he talks about seeing oneself “through the eyes of others,” essentially through the stereotypes and constructions of whites who have created these constructions in order to position themselves as superior. Along with Du Bois, I also thought of Frank Yerby when reading Wilkerson. Yerby told James Hill, “I reject adjectives. Adjectives, which are the enemy of nouns, don’t mean anything.”

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The Written Text in George Orwell’s “1984”

Note: During my first year as a PhD student, I took a class on utopian and dystopian literature in Britain. The class looked at authors such as Thomas More, C.S. Lewis, George Orwell, P.G. Wodehouse, and others. For the course, we had to write brief responses (2-3 pages) to the novels and discussions. Recently, I came across some of these responses and thought I would share some of them here over the next couple of posts. I am not altering what I originally wrote, unless it provides more clarity. There may be some questions contained within the posts that I did not have answers for when I wrote them, so I will leave those questions where there are, hoping they will spark conversation about the topic. I wrote today’s post on November, 2009.

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