Date of Award

5-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

College/School

College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department/Program

English

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jeffery Gonzalez

Committee Member

Fawzia Afzal-Khan

Committee Member

Emily Cheng

Subject(s)

Mohsin Hamid--Reluctant fundamentalist, Celeste Ng-- Everything I never told you, Ayad Akhtar--Disgraced, Immigrants in literature, American fiction--21st century--History and criticism

Abstract

This thesis examines the ways American fiction in the past two decades marked a renewal of the study of the immigrant experience. By examining this renewal, I argue that the conversation is no longer focused on the treatment of assimilation but moves into the psychological shock that transpires after assimilation is achieved. This shock is a critical condition of belonging to two opposing identities. Using Mohsin Hamid’s novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), Celeste Ng’s novel Everything I Never Told You (2014) and Ayad Akhtar’s play Disgraced (2012), I clarify that these works present protagonists from South Asian and East Asian descent who struggle to find a sense of acceptance in the United States due to their multiple identities. This struggle is sourced from their surrounding milieu and the permanent highlight of their otherness. They become conscious of the alienation cast upon their individuality and as a result, interact in the division of their Eastern and Western self. This issues three reactive possibilities; (1) rejection of Western identity, (2) rejection of one's ethnic identity, and (3) resentment towards the ethnic self. This thesis, therefore, aims to present the embodied strain on the identity of contemporary works centered on the reality of immigrants and children of immigrants.

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