Date of Degree

2-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Christopher Schmidt

Subject Categories

Ethnic Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Latina/o Studies | Modern Literature | Other Arts and Humanities

Keywords

family, memory, Dominican literature, gaze

Abstract

I examine two novels, Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Perez and Song of the Water Saints by Nelly Rosario, written by Dominican American authors, to determine how they present identity with relation to family history in conjunction with an analysis of my life and the circumstances that have helped define my identity. I explore how the characters in the texts are affected by the loss of family history, the role that gaze and family memory play in reclaiming that which is lost, and how these all shape identity. The families in the novels seem destined to lead desolate lives; family dissolution with unimaginable horrors occurring within the home and an inability to protect one’s own. These experiences are the result of the loss of family history. In connecting to the past of our ancestors, one can perhaps learn those lessons that can otherwise be painful to experience and be able to build upon this preexisting archive of knowledge rather than starting from nothing. My own experiences reflect the positive effect knowledge of family history has on identity; mine is shaped by my family’s pursuit in education, instilling of family history and pride. It is this sense of familial history that seems so absent in the novels. However, through the act of gazing, the protagonists are able to reclaim a part of that history allowing for a more complete understanding of the self.

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