European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies (EJELLS)

EA Journals


Manifestations of the Utilization of the Magical Realism Technique in John Updike’s Novel Brazil (Published)

Although an obsessive meditation on a multiracial society, John Updike’s Brazil is a magic-saturated reworking of the most romantic love story of them all, the Celtic legend of Tristan and Iseult. Apparently, Updike uses the medievalist legend as a vehicle to explore some typical Updikean themes: the social politics of love, class conflict, the question of gender and patriarchy, immorality and violence, etc. This paper is an attempt to point out how Updike digs into myth and uses the techniques of ‘magical realism’ to weave a narrative of his two young Brazilian lovers, Isabel and Tristão, who try to stay together despite various forces that conspire to keep them apart, notably opposition from their families. Updike’s utilization of ‘magical realism’ will be analyzed in light of the five primary characteristics of this mood as suggested by Wendy B. Faris in her seminal work Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of the Narrative. This paper is also meant to highlight how Updike’s use of this device gives him an opportunity to hypothesize about the social and emotional consequences of a reversal of races. It is here that the link Updike creates between the indigenous peoples and the characters becomes key, for it allows the central characters, Isabel and Tristão, to experience the magic, and thus finally delve into what race means in their lives and for their identities. This paper argues how the characters manage, through magic too, to explore ethnic identity; an identity they previously ignored or abandoned. For all, this abandonment has negative consequences, leading to their devaluation of self. Isabel thinks that her being black and Tristão being white will solve much of their problems, but in reality it only makes them worse and Tristão ends up killed in the end.

Keywords: Amazonia, Brazil, Mythology, Updike, magical realism, race

Bicultural Identity in David Hwang’s FOB and Yellow Face (Published)

David Henry Hwang (1957- ) is a Chinese American playwright who uses political satirical set up to portray racial identity. Hwang’s parents are both Chinese-born; they immigrated to the United States before they met there and got married. In spite of the fact that Hwang – in a number of interviews – describes his Chinese American childhood as free of any racial issues, he is known in his works for his inquiry into identity and the concept of belonging. Hwang reveals his awareness of racial stereotypes in relation to the common perception of Asians and Asian Americans, and he admits experiencing racism when he first went to New York City. His plays usually centre on complex characters and depict their experiences with racism, imperialism, discrimination or generational differences, FOB (1980) and Yellow Face (2007) are outstanding examples. Asian characters that have been presented in theatre in Europe since the nineteenth century were played by white actors, like in The Queen of China Town (1899) by Joseph Jarrow and Madame Butterfly (1900) by David Belasco.  As a result Asian American playwrights wrote a number of plays depicting discriminatory casting of characters, like David Hwang’s Yellow Face, premiered in Los Angeles in May, 2007, and Lloyd Suh’s Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery (2015).

Keywords: Discrimination, Immigrants, Stereotype, bicultural, race

Symbolism and Race in Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman (Published)

Theatre is one of the means by which different cultures both proclaim and question themselves.It is constantly connected with the broad forces of insurrection and rituals in different societies. Starting from the beginning of the previous century theatre has developed as a practice with which to rethink gender, violence, ethnicity, identity and arts. Racial thinking and modern stage interact to reset an understanding of race and turn individual experiences into art. Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman (1964) is the study of a culture of white supremacy that has historically marginalized all other races, presenting some possible consequences. In an attempt to combat the deep rooted problem of racial discrimination in the American society, Baraka tries to examine and analyze the psyche behind it.

Keywords: Culture, Discrimination, Violence, race

Gender, Class, And Identity in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and Suzan-Lori Parks’ In the Blood (Published)

The genesis of suffering of Afro-American women has multilayered factors, i.e., race, class, gender, etc. But the struggle of these women is still underrepresented. The present paper looks at the representation of Afro-American women in the fictions of two Afro-American women writers – Alice Walker and Suzan-Lori Parks – to investigate the gender, class, and race dynamics in their works. Their selected works were analyzed from a comparative perspective with a view to highlight the plight of Afro-American women, and to look for possible convergence in the emancipated portrayal of their juxtaposed characters.  The thematic stress and characterization of the protagonists in the selected works suggests that oppression of black women can be challenged only if they realize their own strength, in the bonds of sisterhood, for instance, or in the refusal to submission to oppressive conditions. Superficially, the writers have come up with juxtaposed images of black women – Alice Walker’s Celie victimized because of her poverty, race and gender, while Suzan-Lori Parks’ Hester allowing herself to be exploited by men, resorting to filicide in the end. But, at a deeper level both the writers chide black woman for their lack of strength to put a bold face against their oppressors.

Keywords: Afro-American Women's Oppression, Class, Filicide, Gender, race

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