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An Overview into Multicultural Literature

Updated on March 5, 2018


My name is Kaileigh Knollhuff, I am twenty-one years old and I love literature. Many times I find myself getting lost in literature and I am most drawn to multicultural literature pieces. Multicultural literature covers many pieces that authors have written around the world. That does not exclude pieces from early China, Stalinist Russia, or even 20th century America. The word Global can usually be defined as relating to the whole world or as worldwide. It can also be defined as embracing something as whole or embracing a group of things. This is the main goal of multicultural literature; it helps to make readers aware of the global cultures that helped to shape many literary works. This also plays into the blurred lines of national boundaries during the 20th century. From the authors perspective off how they viewed the world during their lifetimes; it allowed readers to take a glimpse into how the author felt during that time. Readers also get a glimpse of how the authors struggled with how they view themselves and other people. Many of the authors wrestled with cultural identity and how they fit into a world that was always changing. Many of the characters found in the stories struggle with their cultural backgrounds and how religion makes a negative or positive impact on their lives. However, it does not stop at religion, the characters morality levels and perceptions of how they view the world has a great impact as well. Most of the stories cover a journey into a characters self-discovery.

Week 1: The Metamorphosis

In weeks 1-3, the material that is covered in The Metamorphosis, Which is a fantastic story and hits on such a controversial note. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka centers on a man who is transformed into a monster overnight. He struggles at first with his new identity but later comes to accept it. The story centers around death and acceptance as the protagonist, Gregor, accepts his life for what it is and dies, as his family moves seemingly forgetting Gregor.

Week 2: The Story of Ying-Ying

The story of Ying-Ying by Yuan Chen focuses on the theme of loss and betrayal. The main protagonist Cheng falls deeply in love with a woman by the name of Ms. Tsui. Though at first, she wants nothing to do with Cheng, he eventually won her affections over with verses of lovely poetry. They then begin a secret affair and the two appear to be destined to be with one another. That is until Cheng is sent to the capital for work. There he starts to share intimate details of his affair with the lovely Ms. Tsui. The rumors then spread and reach back to Ms. Tsui who becomes overcome with rage and heartbreak. She basically never see's Cheng again, even when he requests to see her. Cheng is left to deal with the consequences of his pride and arrogance. As it cost him the love of his life and any chance he had at happiness.

Week 3: To New York

To New York, by Leopard Sedar Senghor, is more of a satirical piece. At a first glance, it would appear as though he is writing a love letter to New York. But as the poem moves forward he starts to criticize New York for its filthy streets and intolerance of minority groups that make up most of its population. Senghor personifies New York to be a woman and how her beauty forms from the diversity found in her streets.

Week 4: The Yellow Woman

The Yellow Woman by the author, Leslie Marmon Silko centers around a bored housewife who leaves her family. She is whisked away by a mysterious man whom of which she believes to be a Ka'tsina spirit. She and the man have a romantic night together by the river bed. In the morning the woman wakes before the man and stands by the edge of the river pondering the events that took place the night before. She ponders over a story her grandfather told her of a spirit and the Yellow woman. She concludes that she is the Yellow Woman; and that the man is the spirit that was destined to whisk her away from her boring life with her husband and child. Eventually, the man wakes up and the two share their goodbyes, leaving the woman to return to her life with her family. Pining for the man to return and whisk her away once again.

Week 5: The Man of La Mancha

The Man of La Mancha, by T'ien Hsin, starts with a quest with an anonymous protagonist who narrates the story. He claims that his quest is for neither fame or glory. He is just trying to find his purpose in life and often questions his existence. He describes himself as a recluse and has a morbid obsession with his own death. Revealing the deep theme of obsession. His obsession goes so deep to the point where he makes decisions based solely on how people will view him after his death.

Week 6: The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman

The Daydreams of a Drunk Woman, by Clarice Lispector revolves around a woman who craves freedom with so much desperation she drinks herself silly. She gets so drunk to the point where she begins to hallucinate. SHe begins having conversations with herself in the mirror and she starts to fall further into insanity. Her moods change constantly moving from a carefree attitude to an aggressive melancholy personality. Eventually, she falls into a deep slumber and has strange dreams for the next thirty-six hours.

Week 7: And of Clay We are Created

And of Clay w are Created is a story based off of true events that occurred in Chile. The story is by Isabel Allende who recounts a little girl who was caught under debris and is slowly dying. The story slowly shifts from the point of view of Eva Luna to her boyfriend Rolf Carle. His original plan was to document the horrible landslide by taking photographs. But he becomes entranced by a young girl trapped under what remains of her house. He then begins to help in any way he can. When it becomes apparent that nothing can be done to help the girl he becomes distraught and falls into despair. The girl ultimately dies and Rolf comes to accept that he did what he could and that there was nothing else to do.


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