An Analysis of 'Everything Is Far From Here' by Cristina Henríquez
Cristina Henriquez is the author of ‘The Book of Unknown Americans’, New York Times bestselling book of 2014. Her fictional work mainly comprises the life of immigrants and the issues they face in the process of immigration. Everything Is Far from Here, also deals with the life of illegal immigrants in detention center, particularly women problems as a detainees. Story opens with the description of female protagonist inner feelings and her physical condition. She has just crossed the southern border into United States. She is in detention center because of illegal entry or unauthorized arrival. ‘On the first day there's a sense of relief.’ In this clause writer shows what protagonist is feeling which is in sharp contrast with her physical appearance. She has arrived after three weeks of constant walking, journey which tired her. She is muddy, blisters are all over her ankles and she has bruises too on her body. Hope could be the reason of her relief. She speaks Spanish, she leaved her home town because of threats of violence. it's clear she made this decision because she was left with no other choice. She arrived in America with hope in her eyes, hope of living fear free life and hope of getting all the basic human rights. Her arrival perhaps assures her the fulfillment of her dreams and sense of safety which she needs for her life. She has a son from whom she has been separated along the way. This could be another reason for her relief she thinks now she is going to meet her son. But she never sees her son through out the story and she keeps on waiting. Perhaps her son does not manage to make it. Story closes with the woman still in detention center. Writer did not specify anything about her future. Whether she will be granted a visa or they will send her back to her country.
Story conspicuously concerns with the role of gender, race and class in the lives of individuals specially those who decided to leave their countries in search of betterment. Title of the story ‘Every thing is far from here’ gives a very fatalistic impression. It suggests the hope and happiness which immigrants expected is far away from their reach. They maybe come as holding upon something but they soon lose all their optimism. And when human beings loses their hope they start thinking that now nothing is conceivable, then they accept their situations by calling it a fate. Perhaps protagonist has also stopped hoping to see her child. For her it was easy to give up, like the petals of flower does, against the gust of wind. “It’s easy to let that happen, so much easier to give in, to be who they want you to be: a thing that flares apart in the tumult, a thing that surrenders to the wind”. This scenario suggests theme of helplessness. Writer describes women condition in the room. They are stacked neatly in bunk beds, like bodies in a morgue. They are placed in a shabby warehouse like dead bodies, like something which is futile and everybody wants to get rid of it. This also shows their emotional state, all detainees are lifeless and inert, perhaps because of fear and grief.
Even in 21stcentury gender settles person's worth and experience. In this story writer specially focuses upon the lives and experiences of women detainees. To reach asylum she(the protagonist) tells her lawyer the reason of leaving her country. She was raped by some boys and she was afraid of living there anymore. Lawyer asks her few more questions and then he coldly remarks, We have an expression here: Boys will be boys.” This remark by lawyer shows, he does not think of this thing as a big problem , which could be considerable in order to give her place in political asylum. Women because of their gender, faces more problems than men. During illegal immigration mostly women subjected to sexual assault. And many of them loses their children as the Protagonist of this story did.
When she was searching for her son in a family room, a young mother assured her that he is coming and said, “everyone makes it eventually”. Which isn't a case in reality. This remarks also shows the thinking of people about immigrants. Common people are not aware of their problems. They look at them as those who choose to leave their houses and now having jobs and things, which they think are the rights of the natives. Being human isn't something worthwhile in today's world. person's worth is determined by their race and class. Throughout the story reader can see that humanity is not important in the eyes of authorities and government, all they care about is the fact that they don't belong to their country. Small children are placed there as they are not living beings.
Detainees lack of compassion for each other, their being extremely self centered reveals the psychology of human mind. When person faces his worst, it becomes hard for him to gives other his best. And that could also be the representation of heedless nature of modern man who only cares about himself.
The essential of this story is that how little people care about each other. Writer does not name her character. In her interview she said that “A person is so much more than where they are from.” Her purpose is to generalize the idea, that this story isn't about just one woman it also includes those who did not make it and whose remains are found in the desert and we will never learn their names. It is about every refugee whom society has never accepted.
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